Sunday, March 31, 2019

news business morphs

Linotype ... molten-leaded letters
A friend in Japan passed along this year-old article about how the press/news media have been left slowly, slowly twisting in the wind.

From it and in my dotage, I find some strange sense of relief that my advancing age and retreating brain cells are not entirely to blame for my inexorable pulling away from the four or five news wires I used to read in the morning. Yes, the brain cells may dwindle, but there are other factors as well.

As usual, the reminder applies: Follow the money.

As I wrote to my interlocutor, I am still happy to have been a part of the news biz. To this day, I still cannot believe anyone would pay me to have so much fun.

PS. In those early 1970's days, the Associated Press style of reporting was held high: Get it all in the first paragraph -- who, what, when, where, why and how. One of the reasons was that when linotypers needed a little extra space between text and ad, s/he would cut the news story from the bottom. There were some amusing goofs to the system, but in general it worked pretty well.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Zen is short for....

Before I forget my own bon mots ... I found myself writing on a Buddhist-oriented bulletin board today:
"Zen" is short for, 'You're screwed. Now get to work.'

"witch madness"

Idly idling up and down the TV remote, my attention was lassoed today by what seems to have been a nine minute short movie by Faith Hubley entitled "Witch Madness." Its creativity of illustration and music glued me to the screen for the segment I happened upon and I would have watched the whole thing if I could avoid signing up for something that promised me a "free" access (code for advertising in my book).

Taste is taste, but I was transfixed and maybe someone else can find a less intrusive entry point ... and then possibly hate it all. I thought it was a delight.

Friday, March 29, 2019

spring before spring

Yesterday, at my request, my younger son took me on a drive through the nearby Massachusetts hills. There was snow littered in the shaded woods to our left and right. Plump streams followed the roads we traveled. Men in mackinaws could be heard winding up their chain saws.

It was too late and too light in the day (c. 1000) for the nocturnal animals to be afoot, but the peeking pinks and tentative greens on the trees were visible. Deer and fox and bear were practicing for a new season not yet fully arrived. It was all very fresh-fresh-fresh after much time spent indoors.

A time still of wishful thinking perhaps, but hope is such a come-hither cuss.

Soon the sugar shacks will fire up and distill the syrups from the sap.

Pretty good rule of thumb: Feeling blue? Get out under the blue.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Saudis tap into U.S. water

Who's buying U.S. supplies of water? Salesman-before-all-else Donald Trump might be pleased to hear it is Saudi Arabia.
With the Saudi Arabian landscape there being mostly desert and alfalfa being a water-intensive crop, growing it there has always been expensive and draining on scarce water resources, to the point that the Saudi government finally outlawed the practice in 2016. In the wake of the ban, Almarai decided to purchase land wherever it is cheap and has favorable water conditions to produce enough feed for its 93,000 cows.
In 2012, they acquired 30,000 acres of land in Argentina, and in 2014, they bought their first swath of land in Arizona. Then, in 2015, they bought 1,700 acres in Blythe – a vast, loamy, agricultural metropolis abutting the Colorado river, where everything but the alfalfa seems cast in the hue of sand. Four years later, the company owns 15,000 acres – 16% of the entire irrigated valley.

eating oatmeal with chopsticks

One of the totally-useless and yet useful things I learned in Zen training was how to eat oatmeal with chopsticks.

Morning meals during retreats found me hungry and so I learned to poke and prod and shovel the gruel whose stickiness quotient did not always allow for easy pickings.

But of course eating was not the sole function of retreats. Retreats were a matter of focusing and boring in on the endless mishegas that was my very own. Lines tended to blur. Beginnings and endings seemed to weave together until the one and the other mishmashed and melded.

Lunch, I learned, was the logical time for the biggest meal of the day. Breakfast was second. And dinner was third. My body said so.

Totally useless information which I am happy today to have learned in my own backward way.

smother love

Sometimes things become so nice and so caring and so inclusive as to become ... well ... idiotic.

Earlier this week, it was (you were surprised .... not) revealed that well-heeled applicants to prestigious American colleges seemed to have an easier time getting into the likes of Harvard and Yale ... and, just coincidentally, daddy made a big donation to the school.

Who pays the price? Among others, the students who thought they were headed towards a top-notch education and then, and then....

My brother-in-law Sean was enraged some ten years ago when his son, Ian, chose Amherst for a higher education. Amherst is a half-a-hitch down from the major players in the Ivy League tiara -- a very good school, but less enormous than Stanford or Princeton or whatever. Sean was enraged when he found that his son was required to take a remedial course in writing during his first year. Learning how to write an essay was part of a high school's job, from where Sean (a Yale grad) sat. All students should know how to do it as a matter of course ... and now Sean had to pay for what he had already shepherded as Ian went to high school. Sean did not have deep pockets, so he resented being told his son (read dad) must pay again for what he (read son) had (theoretically) already learned.

But apparently not all students were equally well-endowed, well-trained, and academically up to par. Ian, a very bright student who nowadays works for Google, would have to go back a step because ... well, others had to take a step back and learn to write their way out of a paper bag.

But it was inclusive, dontcha know.

This has always interested me. How dumb does a college have to be in order to assure a decent revenue stream? When I was in college, I remember one guy who got kicked out because his grades were too low. Does that even happen any more? How can others biting the financial bullet (but lacking deep pockets) expect a top-drawer education when teachers are gang-pressed into 'marking on a curve?'

Trickle-down ignorance seems to thrive on a lack of standards. Teachers are charged with evaluating whether students know their shit or don't, not whether their infirmities hinder them or others.

Meanwhile, in somehow the same neighborhood, Rockland County -- a county just outside New York City -- has declared a state of emergency in the wake of an outbreak of measles that had been declared defeated in 2000.

Children are most at risk of contracting measles which can, but doesn't always, bring on some nasty results. There are those who claim the measles vaccine can bring on negative results (anti-vaxxers) ... but these kids need an education too, don't they? But do I want my child going to school with children who might be more at risk for the disease in a child-heavy environment?

Oh wait -- it would be unkind to exclude them, right? Let's not be biased against an already-defeated disease that is showing signs of resurgence.

I once asked the principal of the grade school my kids all went to: "Johanna, there seem to be guidelines for entering "challenged" children into "mainstream" classrooms -- to give them the benefit of the teachings.

This helps the "challenged" kids. But what does it do to those kids who are not designated as "challenged?" Yes, perhaps it teaches them about kindness, but does it detract from the education they might have received if the teacher's energies were spread across the whole class as distinct from attending disproportionately to the needs of one or two individuals? Who judges what is "challenged" and what is "mainstream?" And by the same token, can these judges winkle out and set standards for those who might be deemed "gifted?"

Inclusion ... I seem to remember the word ... and yet ....

Sure glad I'm not a teacher.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

protected species joke

A conservationist cop stopped a man with a shotgun and a quarry bag in the woods. He politely but firmly asked to see what was in the bag since it was not hunting season. Inside the bag was a dead loon.

"Loon is a protected species," the cop said.

The hunter was all over himself to explain that he had three children and a wife and he had no way to feed them without his hunting. The cop listened and then said he had no choice but to ticket the hunter. The hunter redoubled his efforts: How was he to feed his hungry family without food to put on the table?

Bit by bit, the cop relented until finally he said, "OK, I'll let you off with a warning." The hunter was as grateful as could be. "But don't let me catch you again," the cop said as the two prepared to go their separate ways.

But as the pair separated, the cop called back over his shoulder, "By the way, what does loon taste like?" The hunter stopped and thought for a moment before answering:

"It tastes a bit like bald eagle."

Monday, March 25, 2019

a sociopaths' duet

Yesterday, for the first time in a long time, I did not lay a glove or finger tip on the computer.

Somewhat to my surprise, I didn't disappear or melt.

People still seem to be talking faster than necessary -- or is that simply my mind refusing to keep up? -- but after my daughter's explaining the up-and-coming marijuana legalization .... well, smoke a little and the world apparently slows down a bit.

I lolled on the couch, watching bits and pieces of sports and movies I have seen before, and basically meandered the day away. Each time I thought I could hear computer whines from the corner, somehow I just never made it over to tender words of consolation.

The beginnings of a quasi-poem came to mind, but then sank like one of those water bottles whose pastic dots our pristine shores. Poetry/schmoetry.

Benjamin Netanyahu appears to be in town, nuzzling up to Trump who seems to have ducked the bullet of a Robert Mueller investigation ... and meantime casting a few bombs on Gaza as Netanyahu tries to sidestep a difficult re-election bid. Netanyahu and Trump ... what a political ticket. The Sociopaths' Duet.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

on the sexual toll road

As U.S. President, Donald J. Trump might well attest, inflation is a no-fooling-around problem.

As a kid, before I learned experientially that a pecker was not just to pee with, we had a naughty verse that went:
Sally is a friend of mine,
She will do it any time.
For a nickel or a dime,
Fifteen cents for over-time.
Very tee-hee at the time.

Some years later, Trump would learn that paying off two women with whom he allegedly had sex around $280,000 is just par for the high-resolution highway.

small news rant

A blustery day Saturday with snow showers. Sunday better.
Page A2
Drawing by Juliana Valerio Norris School, Southampton
My daughter stopped by today en route to getting her hair done. In a small chat, she took the trouble to orient me on the vagaries of the burgeoning marijuana-sales world of which I have little understanding. Then she was off with my younger son to a "wine-tasting" event. I returned to the hard-copy newspaper said to serve my world, "The Daily Hampshire Gazette."

Bit by bit and drip by drop, the Gazette oozes into non-existence and reduced-reduced-reduced staff which produces the front page and the small, homey (dontcha know) box giving an overview of the weather ... above.

Like much of the rest of what's left of the 'news'paper, the weather box has been truncated to leave out even the most salient of facts... right down to the guesstimated temperatures and the suggestion that "blustery" is somehow bad or undesirable and when coupled with snow is a true "uh-oh."

In my news incarnation, temperature ranges were part of the forecast. Readers could and did use those frequently-inaccurate markers as pegging parameters on their own day ... and not have some feel-good smiling ninny do it for them. True, the snippet did encourage people to look inside for more Gazette insight, but at that point doesn't it stop being worthy of page-one note?

I am sick of people trying to improve my world or make me feel better about it when they have little or no evidence about what may or may not be somehow worse. Instead, I am provided with the opportunity to agree and be sociable and .... and it's all miles from what once was news.

My younger son, who can be prickly, has a sweatshirt that reads, "there will always be assholes."

OK. Nuff said.

Newspapers everywhere are declining ... declining and whining ... and yet they seem to keep on printing. Maybe it's the 10% profit margin they may be enjoying despite the loss of bricks-and-mortar ad revenue. I'll admit it can't be easy to have the past and present on the plate without pretending to see the future into the bargain. One way to sidestep might be to print on each page in Told type, "NO ONE CAN FORESEE THE FUTURE."

Friday, March 22, 2019

bodies unearthed on Mt. Everest

In the growing warmth, the corpses appear on Mt. Everest:
Melting glaciers on Mount Everest are exposing the dead bodies of climbers previously entombed in ice, as global warming causes temperatures to rise.
Almost 300 climbers have been killed attempting to climb the mountain since the first attempt to scale it in 1922.
I guess warmth may have that effect -- to expose what was in plain sight the whole time.
For example:
Mina Guli has run 62 marathons – one a day since early November. She planned to run 100 to focus attention on the world’s growing water problems, but now she’s broken her leg and can’t go on.
Ms. Guli, 48, is an Australian lawyer and businesswoman. In 2012, she decided to focus on helping the world face its water problems. Ms. Guli said that when she saw a river that had dropped 20 feet (6 meters) in six years, she realized she needed to do something.
Experts think that by 2030, people will need much more clean water than we’ll have on the planet. By then, the United Nations expects water supplies to be limited for about half of the people on Earth.
In her travels, Ms. Guli has seen people who weep for water.

The warmth rises and the bodies appear. The past rises up to assert its place in the skein of things. Is this a joke? Was it ever missing? Just because the movie runs a "the end" credit, is that really the end of anything. What preceded "the end," what "succeeded" it? The warmth thaws a kind of wilful ignorance that longs for a "the end." Neat and tidy as "the end" may be, still there is all that history that preceded it ... and thence, succeeded it. Life is not neat and tidy, as much as I might prefer to forget and move on and heal and improve.

In Venezuela, a land struggling to feed an increasingly hungry population seated on one of the world's largest oil reserves, a woman observes:  "It's hard, too hard, you can die without water," she said. "We weren't aware of this before. Water now is gold."

I once read (but can't winkle out) a Los Angeles Times story about a reporter who was actually sent to Tibet to assess the thrall in which Tibetans might feel themselves in the wake of a Chinese 'invasion.' Once upon a time, Tibet was ruled by the Dalai Lama and his Buddhist coterie. Bumper stickers in the United States read, "Free Tibet." To hear the tale told, you might have thought the Dalai Lama and his disciples got the bum's rush and were oppressed. And perhaps they were.

Yet in the midst of the LATimes story was a line that came from a local farmer who had lived under both sets of rulers -- the Dalai Lama and the Chinese: He said, simply, "Well, at least we're not slaves any more."

The warmth encroaches, the bodies appear and what was never missing reattaches its caboose to the train that always pulled it. Just because a conclusion is convenient does not necessarily mean it's true ... or untrue either.

Warming grows and Monty Python springs to mind: "Bring out your dead!"

Thursday, March 21, 2019

antique flat-liners

George III mahogany and parcel-gilt mirrors. The one on the left sold for $3,300 in 2002, and the one on the right for $1,800 in 2014.CreditStair Galleries
The market for antiques has headed south, I realize this morning after chatting with my friend Bill Samaha, a longtime dealer in what was once made by hand by craftsmen whose skill seemed unassailable.

A March, 2018, article in the New York Times noted:
Will other 18th and 19th century furniture pieces ever return to fashion? Many designers say that antiques will rise again but, after nearly two decades of decline, few are willing to predict when.
“The pendulum is going to swing just like it does in politics,” said Mr. Hayes. “It always does. But I don’t see it coming anytime soon.”
There was a time when design and au-courant denoted a person whose "taste is in his mouth." Today, in the age of the internet and with but few exceptions, the trend seems to be keeping up with those who are keeping up ...

Artworks made of plywood????? You've got to be shitting me! But no one is laughing as the money changes hands.

Once again, I am left in the fumes from the exhaust.


Wisdom is everywhere.

Eyes and ears vary.


Sunday, March 17, 2019

the ascendancy of the White Man

A white America?

Manifest Destiny?

Well, take another look and perhaps learn to savor -- in "El Norte; The Epic and Forgotten Story of Hispanic North America" -- the Hispanic roots and culture that preceded the preposterousness of the White Man's claims:
This point of view persists. In the 2000s, the historian Samuel Huntington wrote that “America was created by … settlers who were overwhelmingly white, British and Protestant” – and therefore the arrival of Hispanics in large numbers remained a direct threat. Huntington denigrated such immigrants as people with “dual nationalities and dual loyalties”, because of their Spanish language and Catholic religion.
Arrogance is so much easier to spot in hindsight, but still, when it flows from the pens of those claiming to be historians ... JesusfuckingChrist! Exceptionalism is so enormous that it can make you choke when trying to separate Donald Trump's disciples and the rest of us soaking up 'American' history.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

New Zealand et al

The confusion and the anger and the anguish mount in the wake of the fatal shooting at two New Zealand mosques of 49 people. Nationalism and exceptionalism are folded into the mix.

Imagine killing or maiming or disabling someone because s/he comes from somewhere else. And in New Zealand -- that hot bed of wealthy homeowners hedging their bets against the upcoming water wars and race wars and more wars and more wars -- of all places.
CHRISTCHURCH/WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Reuters) - Australian Brenton Harrison Tarrant, 28, a suspected white supremacist, was charged with murder on Saturday after 49 people were killed and dozens wounded in mass shootings at two New Zealand mosques.
A gunman apparently walked into a mosque and simply started shooting. The purity of his race was in question ... and everybody else's as well. Didn't Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, say much the same last week -- Israel is for Israelis, period ... before walking the statement back? Beware the first-est with the most-est, whatever the stripe or configuration. If white people should rule the world (nationalist whooppee), well, that's a major oops. If Israelis should rule in Israel -- as they do -- that's another oops. And the list goes on and on.

What a mess.

Bless all the activist children who are out there bellowing about climate change and other uniting principles. Lord knows I have neither the energy nor the brain power for it all. I have to admit that the first thought into my head in the wake of the New Zealand slaughter was, "It's time for another St. Valentine's Day Massacre -- line up the so-called nationalists and simply wipe 'em out, stem to stern and top to bottom ... They're stupid, perhaps, but they are also armed.

Another warmonger voice heard from.

lolling and writhing

Perhaps life is little more than lolling and writhing.

Or maybe not ... the "lolling and writhing" duet rattles around this morning. It's smooth off the mind's tongue ... lolling and writhing and perhaps it is close enough for folk singing.

"Importance" overstates the case.

Not sure what I'm getting at, but I thought I'd write it down.

Lolling and writhing.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

basic survival kit....

Duct tape.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

compost the corpse

'Give back to the earth': Washington could legalize composting of human remains

The legislation, if signed, would see the state become the first in the US to legalize the alternative to cremation and burial


No disrespect intended, but aren't you a little old for books?

Monday, March 11, 2019

John Oliver on "robocalls"

women with "breed ready" status

An open database in China contains the personal information of more than 1.8 million women, including their phone numbers, addresses, and something called “BreedReady” status, according to a researcher.
Victor Gevers, a Dutch internet expert from the non-profit group GDI.Foundation, found the insecure data cache while searching for open databases in China.

no more the news hound

Bit by bit, I am no longer the news hound I once was. True, the doings of Donald Trump and his mirror Benjamin Netanyau can light my grinding disapprobation fuse, but literally, I now seem to skip over the news in order to reach a comfort zone that is somewhere between the Augustinian "born between piss and shit" and the admired graffito, "Man without God is like a fish without a bicycle."

My own fictions leave me cozy. The fictions and facts of others unrelentingly fail to stir the pot. I am reduced, I guess, to navel-gazing. But there is something to be said for navel-gazing -- at least it's mine and it is something I feel comfortable laying claim to.

My own fictions. The outrages dim. The warm bath water that is my own swirls and eddies and I am at home with bits and pieces of stories left incomplete. Others tend to their own business without a blush. I blush because I was once very gung-ho about about the social injustices and clusterfucks.

Tales and sketches can begin anywhere and I like the anywhere's far better. I'm just more interested, even in the face of question, "who died and left you interesting?" I am turning into Donald Trump, I suppose, but I am too lazy and uncomfortable to put a stop to it. A corrupt election here, a car bomb there, an argument about exiting from the European Union, and, as always, another war.

I like being comfortable and perhaps am simply too old for anything else. It just feels good in some visceral way that 'hard' news does not.

How do you make steel? What is steel made of?
What is the creature in the briny, briny deeps that is more humongous that the giant sea squid? I heard about it on TV. True or not ... there always will be a bigger, a more ferocious, and a more dangerous what-ever-it-is. When a person dies, do the fingernails continue to grow, as a high school test paper once asked me and to which I still don't know the answer, though it seems unlikely.
In the Springfield Armory Museum 20 miles south of here, there is a water-powered lathe someone invented to churn out rifle stocks during the Civil War ... imagine that ... all those angles and cuts and it's all run by water.

Fact and fiction -- my belly button.

I will skim the news ... perhaps.

Or perhaps no longer.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

a mild matter of curiosity

Question: How could Jesus be a winner if I am still a sinner?

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Mr. 80

Happy birthday, Mr. 80.

Oops... turns out I am not 80 at all but rather, as my daughter pointed out, I am 79. Let's chalk it up to a 79-year-old's foible.

80 is a roundy, rattling number, sort of like a couple of marbles in the mouth, idly moving here to there, idly clicking. I kind of like 80 -- at least on first blush. It's smooth and of course I'm never going to turn 80 ... except for the fact that I have ... I guess ... turned 80.

Who'd-a-thunk it? Not I, that's for certain.

And the door is still open.

"A whisper from your past" sends an unsigned, meticulously-hand-written card ... peaceful as a pomegranate. I like it but know I will never find out who sent it. N'importe ... it's peaceful and I'm thankful.

In the news, there is another belching about anti-semitism in the U.S. and else where. Lots of breast-beating and yet no where in the earnest observations do I find one reference to the elephant in the Israeli living room -- the Palestinians against whom Israel unleashes an apartheid that would do Hitler proud. How can this be a rational or even very helpful approach? There is something prim and protected and infuriating about it.

Religion and Israel seem to lose their grasp as I rattle marbles in my mental mouth.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

compulsory voting

Imagine that! It may come with its own headaches, but still, imagine that!
Australia is one of only 19 countries out of 166 electoral democracies where voting is compulsory, and one of only nine that enforce it. It is the only English-speaking country that compels its citizens to vote.
And more, the Aussies vote on Saturdays, not on a workday.

anti-Zionism equals anti-Jew? Get real

All over the world, it is an alarming time to be Jewish – but conflating anti-Zionism with Jew-hatred is a tragic mistake
It is a bewildering and alarming time to be a Jew, both because antisemitism is rising and because so many politicians are responding to it not by protecting Jews but by victimising Palestinians.
I like the lede on this story even if I haven't got the energy to wade through it.

barking dog-owners

SADDLE RIVER, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey town is putting some bite in an ordinance that could result in hefty fines and even jail time for owners of barking dogs.
The Saddle River council is amending a one-sentence noise rule by placing time restrictions that would prohibit dogs from barking, howling or yelping for more than 20 minutes between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. or for more than 15 minutes between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.
Violators would face a fine of up to $1,000, up to 90 days or up to 90 days of community service.
Anyone who has lived around such neurotic dogs and their neurotic owners ("s/he's such a sweet dog") may feel a sigh of vindictive pleasure.

on turning 80

Like a puff of wind passing idly across the summer-smooth stillness, the questions tiptoe on the shiny lake, touseling some boy's so-perfect hair. It's an area of roughness in the midst of all else that is in order and solution and stasis. Just a small patch. Summer. And then, of a sudden, it's gone -- back to a glacial stillness, like the rest.

Unfortunate onlookers rustle up sages and wise men. Why does simplicity always need to be so damned complex? It doesn't, of course, but that understanding comes with time, I think: Questions don't posit answers. Hell, they don't even posit questions. Let the small boy be and smile. It's just a puff.

On Saturday, as man's crow flies, I will be 80. How did that happen? What does it mean?

With time, the need to overlook or drill down into the questions abates. Answers are just grist for the question mill. What a bonny lad! Relax and tousle his hair.


There will be swimming later and in the meantime, it is smooth.

Do a cannon ball!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

holy jumpin' jibber-jabber, Batman!

OK, I surrender: Any time a British publication uses the word "maths" I know I'm going to become and remain lost. It gives me permission, which I receive gratefully, to be dumb. But this piece from the Guardian is wonderfully compelling somehow, a tale that takes on artificial intelligence and manages to shoehorn in everyday laziness and stupidity like my own.
Machines can already write music and beat us at games like chess and Go. But the rise of artificial intelligence should inspire hope as well as fear, says Marcus du Sautoy
Who hired this guy? Who pays him? And how does anyone know they're getting a bang for their buck? Luckily, because of the key word "maths," I do not feel compelled to answer in any coherent way. I can just sit back and marvel about whatever marvelous (or is it just nutsy-fagin?) confetti he is sending into the environment?

I wish I could say I would return to read the article again, and thus 'understand' better -- but it's a lie. It's all about "maths;" I am a nobody when it comes to "maths;" so you figure it out and tell me what's going on. Strangely, I love this strange miasmic leap into Neverland or wherever the hell it is.
Slackers should take note: the human aversion to hard work, it seems, is often nothing but a good thing. “I think human laziness is a really important part of finding good, new ways to do things,” he says. “I often look at things and think: ‘This is just getting too complicated – let me try to step back and figure out a shortcut.’
I think I love the fact that someone actually hired this guy and then let him lose in the rabbit warren. That's what I think ... or anyway what I think I think.

Buddhism, the cheat sheet

Because there was reason today to look it up, I did and rather liked it and so will republish what I wrote a bunch of years ago. Buddhism seems so éloigné today... sort of ... so to speak ... but what the hell ... a one-page, disposable cheat sheet on Buddhism -- not my worst crime I hope.

The truth of Buddhism does not come from a book. It does not come from a temple. It does not come from someone else. It is not written on a piece of paper. The truth of Buddhism comes from the individual effort to investigate, verify and actualize a clear understanding of this life.

Shakyamuni Buddha, the man most often referred to as the founder of Buddhism, was born on the border of India and Nepal in about 565 BC. He attained what is sometimes called enlightenment at 35 and preached until his death at 80. Many schools of Buddhism sprang from his teachings … in India, Tibet, China, Korea and Japan among others. Uncertain estimates put Buddhist numbers at about 350 million worldwide.

It is good to remember that the word “Buddha” simply means “awake.”  Not holy or unholy – just “awake.”

All Buddhist schools agree on at least two things:

1. THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS: These are observations about the world around us.
The Four Noble Truths are:
*** 1. There is suffering (dukkha – the uncertainties, dissatisfactions and doubts that life can dish up); 2. There is a cause of suffering; 3. There is an end to suffering; 4. There is a way to end suffering.

2. THE EIGHTFOLD PATH: These are the tools suggested as most useful when seeking out a truly peaceful life in a changing world.
The Eightfold Path is:
*** 1. Right View 2. Right Intention 3. Right Speech 4. Right Action 5. Right Livelihood 6. Right Effort 7. Right Mindfulness 8. Right Concentration.
The word "right" is sometimes translated as "complete." A “complete” effort is thorough-going and whole-hearted. Nothing is held back. Buddhism is not a threat-based persuasion: You won’t go to heaven (right) if you practice it and you won’t go to hell (wrong) if you don’t. But honesty is required -- complete honesty.

The Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path carry with them the verifiable observation that everything in life changes. There is nothing that does not change. Joy turns to sorrow, love turns to anger, birth turns to death, and the family car always gets a flat. All Buddhist schools agree on such things, but how they approach them may vary.

But as the Dalai Lama put it once, "Everyone wants to be happy." And that is probably as good a summary of Buddhism as any.


You knew it was coming and now finally, it seems, here it is. Move over TED talks. Make some room on the self-referential rainbow of social analyses. It's here at last:
Are you turned on when you look in the mirror, and enjoy nothing more than a steamy night at home alone? You could be an autosexual.
Go back to your lairs, oh ye purveyors of gonna-fix-things-that-ail-you. No need for anyone else's opinion. The is the last word....

Only you know it isn't.

All you know is that is has endless possibilities and someone's going to make some money.

Monday, March 4, 2019


Snowman-ready snow -- 6-8 inches' worth -- fell overnight and the area is humming with snowblowers and potential cardiac incidents. Schools are closed together with other outlets that have taken to succumbing to the first hint (what?! -- do we live in Georgia now?) of slip-sliding and -- what did you say?! -- snowplows.

I guess I've joined ranks with the old farts who grit their teeth and grumble, "when I was a kid, we all walked 15 miles through the snow ("barefoot" for added drama) to get where we needed to go. Everyone else did too."

The word "pussy" springs to mind, but I won't say that. Some millennial improvement imp might jump my bones.

massacres in Australia

 ... just some shuddering history worth noting.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

marital weights

Competitors take part in the annual UK wife-carrying race at Dorking. Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA

the many uses of a bed frame

Men and relatives carry the coffin of Sudheer Qureshi, a boy whom mourners say was killed by shelling fired from Indian Administered Kashmir, during a funeral in Jehlum Valley in Pakistan Administered Kashmir, Pakistan March 2, 2019. Picture taken March 2, 2019. REUTERS/M. Saif-ul-Islam

Saturday, March 2, 2019

coming back?

My accomplishment du jour -- and with the somewhat grouchy nudging of my wife ...

Today is Saturday.

Don't ask me what day I imagined it to be otherwise, but at least I seem to be on course now.

Two days ago, I had a 'procedure' that intended to increase blood flow in my left-leg/foot. The affair was intended, as I understood it, was to have been a one-day, in-and-out matter. Instead, I remained in the hospital overnight and was crabby as a wet cat. Hospitals are mausoleums in disguise from where I sit and I didn't like it -- no color, no art, beds made to aid the aides who make them but not the people who rest in them ..... bleah!

After bitching enough -- though with reference to what day, I'm not sure -- I made it home, wobbly and drugged. I slept and slept and slept some more. The blood flow seems to have improved, the pain reduced and I am sitting at the computer ... I think.

In Africa, as I imagine it, the chief sits plump as a plum on the only chair. He is the only one raised up. His tribe sits in the dust. He decides and ponders and expatiates. Things are as they should be and I have no clue as to what this has to do with a hospital 'procedure' but it comes to mind ... a fat belly and everyone pretty much content in the gathering.

In the passage of days, who knows what may have happened. Still, the sun is down, the night dark. The chief's well-fed belly glistens. It is proper -- as with male lions who don't do much of the hunting and yet get first pick of the kill -- that the chief should be fed. Is there more?

Coming back is where I seem to be. From where and to where is open to question.