Thursday, August 31, 2006
150 to 200 folks show up around the first of August to start building the infrastructure of the city (fuel depot, center camp main tent and coffee shop, ice store, fences, street lamps and markers...etc.)
There is an interview with Larry Harvey, founder of Burning Man, who decides the theme. It's also hopeful for me since he's from my generation. This year the Man is connected to a polling booth where people can push a button for "hope" or for "fear". A WiFi network connects the polling machine to the Man and causes him to rise (hope) or sink (fear) after the sun goes down.
Modes of transportation include a 1920 Case steam-driven tractor,
They also show the flower that reaches hundreds of feet into the sky, and looks really cool at night....some one playing a keyboard/fire equipped vehicle, and a guy who rode his bicycle to Black Rock City from San Francisco.
It's cool to be able to look at the videos. If you have digital cable you can watch a live cam.
Monday, August 28, 2006
"His life and work reflects an astonishing adventure: he was an editor, Anglican priest, graduate dean, broadcaster, author, lecturer, and entertainer. He had fascinations for archery, calligraphy, cooking, chanting, and dancing, and still was completely comfortable hiking alone in the wilderness."
Life and Music is a flash animation from the Alan Watts website. It says something like this -
In music, as in life, one doesn't make the end of the composition the point of the composition. Otherwise the greatest composers would be those who played fastest - or only wrote the grand finale.
We are taught and train ourselves to think - The thing is coming it's coming - then one day we wake up a discover we've arrived. But we missed everything. We thought of life as a journey with a serious point at the end...maybe the perfect job, mate, house or heaven or whatever.
But we missed the point...it was a musical thing and you were supposed to sing and dance while the music was being played.
Be sure and watch the flash, as well as the other two if you have some time, he's much better to listen to than to read about in my sketchy notes. Plus the flash animation adds a certain playful touch that's pretty fun.
The Greatest Nancy Panel Ever Drawn
Friday, August 25, 2006
If it's stuck and it's supposed to move - spray WD-40 on it, if it's moving and it's not supposed to - duct tape it.
WD-40 has been around since 1953. It is a water displacer and light lubricant.
"WD-40 is the trademark of a widely used penetrating oil (cleaner, lubricant and anti-corrosive solution) developed in 1953 by Norm Larsen, then working for the Rocket Chemical Company, to eliminate water and prevent corrosion on electrical circuitry. It stands for 'Water Displacement, 40th attempt'. "
From the article on WD-40 in Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This is a link to the WD-40 website with more about the history of WD-40.
The company also sells other home fixer favorites like Lava soap and 3-In-One oil, as well as a selection of other lubricants/cleaners including spray on white lithium grease that looks like it would come in handy for some things.
There are some very appealing things in the Unitarian's beliefs. It's philosophy centered on the search for meaning - absent the creeds, dogma and fundamentalism that have led to violence, pain, suffering and injustice.
The Unitarian Universalist Principles and Values are -
* The inherent worth and dignity of every person.
* Justice, equity, and compassion in human relations.
* Acceptance of each other and encouragement to spiritual growth.
* The free and responsible search for truth and meaning.
* The right of conscience and the use of democratic process.
* The goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all.
* The interdependent web of existence, of which we are part.
Unitarian Universalist's draw inspiration from many sources...
1. Words and deeds of prophetic women and men
2. Wisdom from the world's religions that inspire us in our ethical and spiritual life
3. Jewish and Christian teachings
4. Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason
5. Earth centered and indigenous spiritualities
...to further experience the mystery and wonder in our lives that is affirmed in all cultures of the world.
I stumbled on that Unitarian site because I was pondering the trinity in an innocent and naive way. Wondering...wondering always wondering.
For the theologically inclined - there are trinitarians and non-trinitarians (the non-trinitarians...end up being labeled non-Christians, which is the category that Unitarians fall in).
I'm drawn to the idea that there is no "other". That it/we are one.
The idea that there is no duality works for me in this world - in the sense that I can say we are all, at some level, the same. If I extend that oneness into the spiritual realm then you and I become an extension of the unnamed source (in some traditions referred to as God). A Christian might say he or she is a child of God...but for me to say we are an extension (a part) of that unnamed source (may be God), borders on heresy for some.
I can't believe that it's as simple as people who aren't "saved", don't know Jesus as their saviour, are bound for hell...or for that matter that people who are "saved" are bound for heaven. It all depends on what you mean by saved I imagine.
In any event - we are limited by our language in what is expressible...and I could try and write a thousand or ten thousand words and not come close to a coherent description of my personal faith and spirituality - assuming it is coherent. I love to read and think - and I'm both attracted to, and repelled by, simple stories, that are found in the Bible. I'm also attracted to the idea that what I think are simple stories are anything but...
Whatever is going on here - It's a multidimensional mystery. For my little piece I'm glad to be able to hold that mystery in tension, keep an open mind, not-know and try to let the many many beautiful people, natural things, ideas - flow through me (hoping a few stay for awhile) and continue on a path toward greater enlightenment, compassion and love for all creatures.
I think if we stayed with the Golden Rule that we love ourselves and share that love with one another, we won't stray too far.
One last thing before I drift off to bed....
I was listening to a Rabbi talk this weekend, about spiritual chants etc., and in sort of an off the cuff remark he said the song "Row Row Row Your Boat" is one of the most spiritual songs we could find. I've often thought that myself...
life is but a dream.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Part of the celebration today will be going to the Department of Licensing to get a brand new driver's license. It will be a good chance to see if any of the Buddhist's lessons from the weekend retreat rubbed off on me - "ahhh grasshopper - you must relax your mind and become one with the universe".
Only joking of course, I'm a big fan of Buddha, Buddhists, meditation and contemplation. I also am really partial to spiritual paths/people that can take a joke.
You may be asking yourself - why is it that Jack has two birthdays?
Well it goes something like this....
My mom and dad headed down to Wyoming from Montana to sell a cow and they came home with me. I ended up with two sort of unusual things from that deal - I was born in Cody Wyoming - a city I have never lived in, but still like because it's my birthplace - and I have two birth days.
I found out about my dual birth days when I was 15.
We had always celebrated my birthday on August 25th. Like most kids, I trusted that my mom - as humorous and fun loving as she could be, wasn't playing some kind of joke on me by fooling me into thinking I was born on a day I wasn't.
At 15 I was chomping at the bit to get my driver's license, and to prove my age, had to order a copy of my birth certificate from the Park County Court House in Cody, Wyoming.
Imagine my surprise when I got my birth certificate in the mail and it said my date of birth was August 24th.
"Oh that....well you were born after midnight and the nurse made a mistake on the birth certificate."
Sooooo I ended up with two birthdays. The one my mom told me about and the one the state has for me.
I really celebrate on the 25th, the 24th is just a precursor, warm-up if you will. I'll fill my thermos with a good Kentucky whiskey or take a hit of acid or something on that day...in anticipation of the big shebang on the 25th.
Actually...it's a strange phenomena - every time I am asked for my birthdate (in a Doctor's office for example) I have to hesitate for a minute and think "do you want my real birthday or my legal birthday". Generally it's the legal birthday. I'm a bit concerned that I'll be prematurely tagged as losing my mind again, when the medical staff writes in their notes, "patient seems confused - unsure of birthdate."
Wishing you a great day every day - whether it's your birthday or not.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Pretty interesting stuff. The researchers use menthol and a synthetic compound called Icilin, a super-cooling substance, in tests on rats and find that the brain is not only responding to the perception of cooling, but also regulating the flow of pain neurons transmitted to the brain in response to the application of menthol or icilin. A feedback loop.
The goal is to find another pain relieving substance for treating chronic nerve pain that does not respond to medicines currently available.
A chance to sit alone and together as we wait for the sunrise - and share things we all know.
We are all in this together
There is no other
There is no out there
There is only this...
listen carefully and you will hear it
watch closely and you will see it
smell it, taste it, feel it
in each instant,
just in that moment, but now it's gone and we live into memory
We share more, that is the same, than anything that makes us different from one another
there is no easy way out
we find our own innate goodness in love and care and compassion
We learn what is most valuable - is what is in most short supply
The power of simple human kindness
and find redemption and love and an easy way out
and if there is one thing God is upset with me for
it will not be that I wasn't more like God
but that I wasn't more like Jack
live your one wild and precious life
it will make God smile
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
In my case I recently learned there is an international stuntmen's school in our area.
No - I won't be attending this year's sessions.
B and I are meeting a young Norwegian relative at the airport tonight - and he is going to this school. He will stay with us until the classes start next Monday August 21st and then move into a dorm with his classmates.
Here are some pictures and articles about the school from the Seattle Post Intelligencer and the Seattle Times.
The International Stuntmen's annual stunt training is intended for those individuals interested in pursuing a career as "stunt performers" or as actors who want to perform his or her own basic stunts.
It sounds like a heck of a lot of fun for a young person who would like to try something out of the ordinary.
Monday, August 14, 2006
This material is part of the prayer and education website of the De La Salle Brothers in Great Britain: Praying Each Day -
"It was 1941, and one of the prisoners had escaped from Auschwitz, the Nazi Concentration Camp in southern Poland. The punishment on the whole camp was that ten other prisoners would die. The camp commandant walked up and down between rows of prisoners. The tenth man he selected was a Polish soldier. The sergeant broke down and begged for mercy because of his wife and young family who would have no support without him.
A thin figure moved forward, took off his cap, and asked if he might take that man’s place in the death cell. “Who are you?” he was asked. “I am a Catholic priest,” he replied. He was Prisoner 16670, Maximilian Kolbe, a Franciscan priest.
The exchange was agreed. Now that the group was 10 in number, they were marched off to Block 13 - the deathblock. They were not to be shot or gassed. They were to die very slowly by being starved of even the very little food that the prisoners were normally given. Their very slow death was designed to put others off from trying to escape.
In the following days, the guards observed the condemned men dying slowly. They also saw that the men were gathered round Father Maximilian, laughing together, praying and singing hymns. One by one the men died - a slow death over 14 days. The last one alive was Maximilian Kolbe and, on this day - August 14th - in 1941, a guard injected him with phenol into his left arm. He died almost immediately.
The Polish sergeant - Franz Gajounicezek - survived Auschwitz and the war itself. Each year he visited that dreadful place and laid a wreath beside Block 13 where Maximilian Kolbe died instead of himself.
Kolbe was aged 47 at his death. Fellow-Pole, John Paul II, canonised him on 10th October 1982. They had both lived in the town of Kracow in Poland and, at the time of Maximilian Kolbe’s imprisonment, the future Pope was working in a stone quarry and a chemical factory whilst preparing to become a priest.
Franz Gajounicezek later said: “At first I felt terrible that another man was dying in my place. But then I realised that he had done this not just to save my life, but to be with the other nine in their terrible agony of dying. His nearness to them in those dreadful last hours was worth more than a lifetime of preaching.”
Auschwitz is situated 20 miles outside the city of Krakow in Poland, near the Czech and Slovak borders. It was the largest concentration camp run by Nazi Germany. More than 1.5 million people were killed there. As that is too large a figure to begin to grasp, we might picture the same number of people as in 1,500 secondary schools that each have 1,000 students._____________________________________
that no-one could have greater love
than to give up their life
for someone else.
in our personal circumstances today
that care and compassion
and love and sacrifice
can change everything.
This is an excerpt from the page of this date in
‘Praying Each Day of the Year’,
a 3-volume book
by Nicholas Hutchinson, FSC.
Matthew James Publishing Ltd
Saturday, August 12, 2006
"If we’re honest, we admit to ourselves that there’s something about all this busyness that we love. We like it this way, despite our half-hearted protests to the contrary. If we’re as busy as we pretend to be, then we’re too busy to allow ourselves to be affected by the pain and suffering of our world. We’re too busy to be addressed personally by the social, political or ecological disasters occurring in our relationships.
We are too busy to listen to our own feelings or those of others. Our busyness insulates from care and from compassion. Our busyness deadens our feelings and numbs our responses. The expectation that we must be busy all the time feels as if it is an external expectation, with the result that we don’t recognize that it is also self-generated in collusion with the culture."
I could see that being okay in an "everything in moderation" point of view. On the other hand there is something to be said for a vacation that frees us from the tether's of technology. I used to like the idea of the vacation cottage without a phone or TV - before the advent of more modern devices like cell phones, laptops, pagers, BlackBerrys.
Nowadays I'd be more prone to want access to any of those devices if and when I decide I want to access them - rather than vice-versa where they intrude on my space.
Maybe if you had a superbright screen and a keyboard/case protector of some sort that kept out saltwater and sand...and some sort of "wireless anywhere" setup this would be possible...but still it seems like an exercise in futility, given all the more interesting things there are to see and do on a beach.
Friday, August 11, 2006
It may be that caloric intake is not directly correlated to weight gain or loss but modulated by your body's ability to extract calories from foods. The ability to extract calories is partly a function of the micro-organisms - which vary from person to person, in our gut.
A person who can extract more calories from food may be genetically blessed in a feast or famine environment, because they can store fat for the famine to come. Unfortunately as all of us super-sizers know, there is no shortage of tasty foods to eat in the good old USA.
Ms. Henig writes the following about Jeffrey Gordon the director of the Center for Genome Sciences at Washington University -
"Gordon likes to explain his hypothesis of what gut microbes do by talking about Cheerios. The cereal box says that a one-cup serving contains 110 calories. But it may be that not everyone will extract 110 calories from a cup of Cheerios. Some may extract more, some less, depending on the particular combination of microbes in their guts. “A diet has a certain amount of absolute energy,” he said. “But the amount that can be extracted from that diet may vary between individuals — not in a huge way, but if the energy balance is affected by just a few calories a day, over time that can make a big difference in body weight.”"
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
I think they are great, and you might like some or all of them too.
Number 9. really resonates with me right now -
"All that I give to you, I also give to myself."
Postscript: August 16, 2006
I noticed the book Addiction & Grace by Gerald G. May is recommended by Brother Francis Delvaux, CSC, long-time Social Services Coordinator at Samaritan Inns in Washington, DC.
The Amazon description of that book says -
"Here is Gerald May's brilliant and now classic exploration of the psychology and physiology of addiction. It offers an inspiring and hope-filled vision for those who desire to explore the mystery of who and what they really are. May examines the "processes of attachment" that lead to addiction and describes the relationship between addiction and spiritual awareness. He also details the various addictions from which we can suffer, not only to substances like alcohol and drugs, but to work, sex, performance, responsibility, and intimacy.
Drawing on his experience as a psychiatrist working with the chemically dependent, May emphasizes that addiction represents an attempt to assert complete control over our lives.Addiction and Grace is a compassionate and wise treatment of a topic of major concern in these most addictive of times, one that can provide a critical yet hopeful guide to a place of freedom based on contemplative spirituality."
In the reviews I see that Father Thomas Keating also refer's to May's book.
I will put "Addiction & Grace" on my "to-read" list.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
"We can speak without voice to the trees and the clouds and the waves of the sea. Without words they respond through the rustling of leaves and the moving of clouds and the murmuring of the sea. "
Paul Tillich - Wikipedia Article
Monday, August 07, 2006
I posted nine photos B took at Big Bass Lake this summer at Big Bass 06 - a photoset on Flickr. They are scanned copies taken with a 35 mm camera - so the quality isn't that great. The original's of the sunsets look very nice, and not too bad on a computer either.
In case you wonder what the symbol is - it's the logo for Picasa, a free picture management program from Google. You can pair it up with another free Google program called Hello, which allows you to post photo's to a blog or a webpage. There are a lot of different ways to do things on the web. I find Picasa and Hello easy to use, intuitive and you can't beat the price.
It's that good - a book you want to keep reading once you start. You may find you want to learn more about snowflakes after you finish it.
The review by the Denver Post says -
"About Grace celebrates the blessings all around us, whether it's the miracle of forgiveness by our loved ones, or the miracle of nature around us."The main character in the novel - David, is a hydrologist who loves water, primarily in the form of snow. He falls in love, loses what he loves, and also possibly his sanity. After an intense string of hardships and adventures - he finds redemption. Depending on how you look at it - David is blessed or cursed - with the ability to see future events in his dreams. It's a page turner.
There's plenty of things to laugh about. I particularly liked Ricky's prayer to baby Jesus, thanking him for the meal of Domino's, KFC and the always wonderful Taco Bell.
Ricky's sons "Walker" and "Texas Ranger" are a little too mean to grandpa, but they got over that when they were exposed to some of Grandma's tough love.
The scene where Ricky's dad finally picks up the NASCAR race tickets that Ricky has been leaving him for years is a great turn-around joke. Gary Cole (Ricky's dad) plays the part well - he's the actor who was the manager in "Office Space".
Friday, August 04, 2006
What is Happiness?
"I asked the professors who teach the meaning of life
to tell me what is happiness.
And I went to famous executives who boss the work
of thousands of men.
They all shook their heads and gave me a smile
as though I was trying to fool with them
And then one Sunday afternoon I wandered out
along the Desplaines River
And I saw a crowd of Hungarians under the trees
with their women and children and a keg of beer
and an accordion."
Source: Chicago Dreams
Thursday, August 03, 2006
An article in the August 7th & 14th Issue of The New Yorker by Nicholas Lemann - "Amateur Hour - Journalism Without Journalists", has managed to ignite a small-scale blogospheric storm on an old (in internet time) topic.
Mr. Lemann writes -
"Internet journalism is a huge tent that encompasses sites from traditional news organizations; Web-only magazines like Slate and Salon; sites like Daily Kos and NewsMax, which use some notional connection to the news to function as influential political actors; and aggregation sites (for instance, Arts & Letters Daily and Indy Media) that bring together an astonishingly wide range of disparate material in a particular category. The more ambitious blogs, taken together, function as a form of fast-moving, densely cross-referential pamphleteering—an open forum for every conceivable opinion that can’t make its way into the big media, or, in the case of the millions of purely personal blogs, simply an individual’s take on life."
The gist of the article is that Blogging isn't going to replace the New Yorker anytime soon.
Amen to that brother.
Blogs are what they are - highly variable in readibility, interestingness, accuracy, tone, intelligence; and they will never ever replace a good literary magazine like the New Yorker.
In reference to a contest held by Backfence.com to pick the two best citizen-journalism stories Richard Lehman in the New Yorker article, writes -
"In other words, the content of most citizen journalism will be familiar to anybody who has ever read a church or community newsletter—it’s heartwarming and it probably adds to the store of good things in the world, but it does not mount the collective challenge to power which the traditional media are supposedly too timid to take up."
Besides the quality of the writing there are other reasons why blogs do not match up to print. The eye-strain factor is a biggie - most anyone I know who wants to read anything of any length prefers print. The jumpiness factor is also important - the web and hyperlinking is an invitation to jump all over the place - not exactly conducive to long term thought and assimilation of complex ideas. Blogs are set up to be short bursts of words - not long drawn out essays. In other words they follow the whole web "short attention span" mode of operation.
It's all okay though. Blogs are what they are - maybe a diary, maybe a bit of news or tech advice, maybe something funny or some pretty pictures. They may be developed for a micro-audience of one, or family and friends, or attempt to reach a larger crowd. They aren't the end of journalism as we know it today. They won't replace books, magazines or newspapers or news-gathering organizations. They won't replace learning by getting out and doing things. They are what they are - a new use of an existing medium that allows anyone to write/create web content.
Because of the democratic nature of blogging it opens up the world a bit where people who have the time and inclination can create their own, or peruse millions of other people's blogs and every so often - create or come across a little nugget of gold...that actually might be as good as something you'd find in The New Yorker.
The New Yorker article points to Yahoo's Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone as an example of where for-pay news reporting can be combined with blogging/internet media accessability and freedom to create something new, and goes so far as saying the internet may be the best reporting medium ever invented. The Hot Zone does something they call "Backpack Journalism for the New Millenium" explaining it as -
"We will be aggressive in pursuing the stories that are not getting mainstream coverage and we will put a human face on them. We will not chase headlines nor adhere to pack journalism but vigorously pursue the stories in front of and behind the conflict, the small stories that when strung together illustrate a more complete picture."The New Yorker article's praises the Hot Zone and goes on to say, "To keep pushing in that direction, though, requires that we hold up original reporting as a virtue and use the Internet to find new ways of presenting fresh material—which, inescapably, will wind up being produced by people who do that full time, not “citizens” with day jobs."
I'm not sure if the Yahoo! Hot Zone is new - I'd need to take a closer look, which may or may not happen since there's that pesky eye-strain to contend with, my short attention span exacerbated by the "click me" siren of the web, and a suspicion, as I wrote back in October of 2003, and Henry David Thoreau a couple of hundred years before me - that Reading One Newspaper is Enough and to extend that sentiment to today's world Reading One Internet News Site is Enough.
Not just reading the New York Times, the Washington Post, Everett Herald, Yahoo! or Google News - but rather just picking any newspaper or news site, from any date - reading it, and then calling it quits and move on to something of more lasting value. Something that doesn't involve trying to live vicariously through other people's misfortunes, criminal behaviour, political machinations or whatever else is exciting enough to be "in the news".
From "Walden Chapter 2" -
"And I am sure that I never read any memorable news in a newspaper. If we read of one man robbed, or murdered, or killed by accident, or one house burned, or one vessel wrecked, or one steamboat blown up, or one cow run over on the Western Railroad, or one mad dog killed, or one lot of grasshoppers in the winter—we never need read of another. One is enough."
Thoreau continues on that theme in "Life Without Principle" -
"We may well be ashamed to tell what things we have read or heard in our day. I did not know why my news should be so trivial- considering what one's dreams and expectations are, why the developments should be so paltry. The news we hear, for the most part, is not news to our genius. It is the stalest repetition. You are often tempted to ask why such stress is laid on a particular experience which you have had- that, after twenty-five years, you should meet Hobbins, Registrar of Deeds, again on the sidewalk. Have you not budged an inch, then?News and current events can be exiting, fun and an interesting diversion if nothing else.
Such is the daily news. Its facts appear to float in the atmosphere, insignificant as the sporules of fungi, and impinge on some neglected thallus, or surface of our minds, which affords a basis for them, and hence a parasitic growth. We should wash ourselves clean of such news. Of what consequence, though our planet explode, if there is no character involved in the explosion? In health we have not the least curiosity about such events. We do not live for idle amusement. I would not run round a corner to see the world blow up."
It might be worth asking ourselves what we do differently as a result of knowing - that someone's house burned down, someone was murdered, a car crashed, a war is going on - political machinations are happening? If the answer is nothing, or limited to hand-wringing, maybe it's time to "take a news break" as Andrew Weill recommends.
Maybe in the spare time gained by weaning ourselves from the nightly news, morning newspaper, constant web updates - we can take some time to think, reflect, and figure out how we can go into the world to contribute, change things, make things better - rather than being passive observers.
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
The flash video is fun to play with - the username and password is wdtpreview.
You can learn why Boeing's new 787 will be more comfortable for passengers, quieter, more fuel efficient and generally just downright cool - with wireless access, bigger windows, and better cabin air quality than today's large airplanes.