Pop to Reid (in Livejournal)

Things that may help:
I’ve had a few metaphorical bumps and bruises in my life, but I’ve never known what it is to be depressed or worried or miserable. There are times, ordinary times, picking up a pencil or walking across the room while thinking of the Universe, that I become so full of something akin to joy that it seems something will break. So a few years ago I started consciously practicing bliss. And that worked out so well, a few years after that I started working on ridding myself of any anger and frustration that might come my way, not by “uprooting” it, but by disallowing to even visit. Easier said than done, of course, but with practice it gets better, and it’s a much better place to be.

Three years ago (2010) I started eating three-squares a day and drinking only water. No other liquids, and no sugars or snacks between meals. After a few months my body felt so “whole” that I started to feel weird–that is, I felt fine, but it felt weird to feel so. Surprisingly, the habit of a lifetime of junk and candy easily fell away. There was no time spent in longing or craving. Perhaps living in China, where there’s lots of good (and good for you) things to eat, had something to do with it.

I once went two years without listening to any electronic music at home, at first due to circumstance, and later, to choice–no T.V., radio, stereo. It seemed weirdly quiet for a time, but then I started listening to the silence. The world goes by quite peacefully, excapt for the neighbor kids yelling and playing.

Yoga everybody knows about, but it can be started at any time and to any degree desired–it’s neither a contest nor a performance. Health giving as it is, the real reason I’ve done it consistently over the years is simply because it feels good. How else can you do something for 40 years?

2. Memories with Reid:
Reid
stood in my hand until he was 2-3 years old. Then I accidentally bonked his head on the Kitchen ceiling beam and that was the end of that. It was fun at the time, but I was almost as happy that he wouldn’t later join the circus.

Late at night I held Reid in my arms as we looked out the kitchen sliding-glass door at the thunder and lightning show, me pointing and exagerating laughter at all the noise and flashes of light. I don’t know if anyone ever did that with me, but I have always loved thunder and lightning and have never feared them.

Teaching Reid to sleep through the normal banter of household affairs, but to awaken at the sound of our whispers. I know my parents did teach me to come out of sleep to their whispering calls.

The road to Badger Lake had some scary moments (cliff’s edge) and Reid got on the floor and closed his eyes.
Viewing the stars on the way home from Beaver Lake, they were the most brilliant and luminous I had ever seen them in my life.

Do you remember when you were three or four or five and I would ask you to give me power and you put your hand on my head to cure my headaches? I think it’s important to teach children that they have power. I wish I had taught you even more, but that is always the wish because the knowledge of the universe is infinite and we can never keep up with it.

Reid could tell time at 5 or 6 years of age. I only remember this because Barbara once came into the kitchen to ask me if I had taught him how to tell time.

Never once, even on the day of his birth, did I speak “baby-talk” to Reid. I only know this because Du’o’ng Nam noticed it and brought it to my attention.

Asking Reid if he could get a tear to come out of his right eye, too, and he stopped crying!

Magic in Hanoi: This occurred in Hanoi and we watched it on T.V. in Saigon in 2008:

We were channel surfing one night in the hotel and came upon the Southeast Asian Soccer Championship match between Vietnam and Thailand that was being broadcast live from Hanoi. Vietnam needed a goal to claim their first championship ever, but unfortunately, there was only one minute left in the contest. Then a foul on a Thai player set up a free kick for Vietnam about 35 meters out and to the left.

Just as I was saying, “Well, it does happen on occasion. We’ll see,” the Vietnamese player taking the kick kicked the ball to a team mate and into the goal. The cameras in the stadium panned the crowd for a full five minutes and it was absolute bedlam. Everyone was screaming and crying and laughing and stomping and couldn’t stop. No one could believe it, even after watching the replay a dozen times. Amazing. And we were lucky enough to have just tuned in. Sweet!

3. Reid’s Stories:
Reid learned to snowboard (both sides) by going to the top of the mountain (not the beginner’s life) and going down as fast as he could, then falling off, then getting back on until he fell down again, then….

4. Non-Reid Memories
You
know you have a special connection with someone when you let the phone ring 270 times before deciding to hang up, and just before you hang-up they answer. (True)

My Sunday Wisdom Tooth Pull in Taiwan and no blood–the dentist was surprised.

High School:
With
John Bealey out all day and we stopped to ask some guy on a tractor what time it was, and I said to John it’s exactly 2:17 and the guy called back “It’s 2:17.” That’s when the time thing started.

Puking on a fishing boat (with John Bealey) all day (6 a.m. to sundown), I said to the concerned 3-man crew, “I know it looks like I’m miserable, and I am, but I very much appreciate having this opportunity to experience this day on your boat, and I’m having a great…WRETCH!” They all laughed. I spent a lot of time on my back watching the sun inch its way across the sky.

In the 11th grade in Salem our English teacher (perhaps the best teacher in the city) handed out a short essay by Spinoza and, as the bell rang, said, “Do it.” There was a clamour begging for more explanation, but that was all we got. Most kids did mostly nothing, and nobody did anything wholeheartedly except me. I wrote a wonderful essay that I still remember and Mr. Voigt read to the class.

He confessed to the class that he had had many superlative fantasies about how the whole class would rise up to meet the challenge and he would have found the vein to the mother lode of student creativity. But, alas, it was not to be. But I had fun.

College:
5:10 mile, as a freshman at Whitworth College, almost won, collapsed and was taken on a stretcher to our dorm.

Bill Reynolds blowing the fly off his nose while asleep. “Bill, there’s a fly on your nose.”

Standing on the freeway (1964) for 15 minutes and getting a ride in a blue Corvette all the way to my friend’s door 600 miles away (Salem to Berkeley). The driver was amazing, never saying one word as a number of bad drivers made mistakes for him to maneuver around during the trip.

Back from Taiwan weighed 115 lbs. (lost 30 pounds and didn’t know it. I thought Sharon’s scale was broken.)

Driving from Spokane to Salem in my 1953 “50th Anniversary Edition” Ford and Burke asking me why I was six minutes late–I had written a letter a couple of weeks before and said I’d pull into their drive-way at 8:07 p.m. He had to remind me that I had written that letter. I laughed.

In the Navy:
In the summer of 1968 I went to sleep with headphones playing a San Diego FM station. In the dark of the baracks I heard three versions of “Morning Dew” played consecutively without interruption. The last version was done by Tim Rose. I have never forgotten it and now I found it on a Chinese music website that took me back to a long time ago.

Tim Rose: “Morning Dew”:  http://www.xiami.com/song/1493368?spm=a1z1s.3057849.0.0.RoHh1V

5. Meanderings:
Flying off the Fremont Bridge with Reid in a dream and telling him no problem, things happen. I love you. Nothing more need be said.

I think you can train yourself to lose your memory, to freak out, go nuts, not care, etc., or to believe you have power, to see the world with or without justice, to smile or not to smile.
Rodney Green from Arizona fought his best friends with fists; you can pick your relationships, too.
What is the difference between detachment and love?
Landing in Nha Trang and thinking we were going to end up in the trees.

Sillyness: I found it much easier to deal with unreasonable people after reading this:
“We thought the guy was an asshole but then found out he was moody. Being moody is a medical condition, being an asshole isn’t. Or is it the other way around?”

More Sillyness: When I go to America for the first time in 12-and-a-half years I’m going to eat 3 Reuben sandwiches, 12 pints of Haagen-Dazs coffee ice cream, and mashed potatoes and gravy. I worry about ordering food in restaurants. I’ve heard stories from visitors to Australia who said that not only do restaurants serve Super Sized meals on Super Sized plates, but patrons all gorge themselves and then lick the plates clean. I do not think I could do that, unless they serve Haagen-Dazs meals.

Growing Old Sillyness: “No one’s interested in Chinese men except themselves.” I read that in a 1936 Shanghai memoir, and I think the same thing can be said about old people. I remember as I was passing through the “getting on in years” door that I wanted to speak of my new-found ailments, but all my friends were twenty years younger than me, so I kept quiet. But since passing through the “old age” door I’ve found friends my own age, but when I see what breakdowns they are dealing with, my own fade into nothingness.

First Time Back to America after 12-1/2 Years:
DEATH IN THE FAST LANE

Butter, cheese, Cheetos, white bread
Haagen-Dazs coffee and strawberry
Reubens and Hot Beef Sandwiches
Chili con Carne, Bacon and ham
Chicken and Turkey pot pie
Chocolate e’clares and maple bars
Chocolate mints, York mint, Butterfinger, Almond joy

A FEAST FOR THE EYES
Every shop, store, and 7-Eleven I’ve been in is a museum of art.
The connoisseur’s choice of color, dazzling products, spacing of aisles and customers,
And the perfectly enamelled smiles and greetings of clerks.
The swiftness of card swipes–“You don’t want my signature? I.D.?”
And out the door and into the street
Where cars stop two blocks away
To allow you to safely cross the street.

DEATH REVISITED
Reuben Sandwich
Hot Beef Sandwich and Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Haagen-Dazs Coffee Ice Cream 8 quarts
Haagen-Dazs Strawberry Ice Cream 2 quarts
Monterrey Jack cheese
Molasses
Almond Joy (4), Andes Mints (120 pieces/567 grams)
5 maple bars, 4 donuts, 2 cinnamon rolls
One pound of bacon

6. Was it seeing a magical cloudscape of light and dark on that brilliant day in Oregon, or that huge sourdough loaf stuffed with things from the garden, or the family get together in which I saw all the children’s children grown and alive and happy? How often we need to be grateful, for everything, for seeing the joy and light of this world and of the next. Let us bow our heads (burp!) and pray.

7. Forgotten movie, remembered line, spoken very fast: “Gabriel, I love you, I really do, but this fucking whiney white guy shit has got to stop.”

8. Dreams:
Maybe it was seeing the world’s largest rubber ball made out of rubber bands, or maybe it was reading The New Yorker for the first time in 35 years (describing football players who enter dementia and dog-fighting), or who knows what, I had a dream:

Watching a guy do cartwheels atop a revolving rubber ball as it orbited earth at 30,000 feet. He would cart a wheel far out to the front and the ball would catch up to him. Once he went too far and went head first down the side of the ball into what should have been freefall, but he unexpectedly and luckily worked a maneuver that brought him back to the top of the ball. On the replay we watched it again, and even saw his white toy rabbit come loose and fall towards earth.

9. Why I don’t like cell-phones:
1. People cut you off in mid-sentence to answer.
2. The same person expects you to wait around until he’s finished talking.
3. People alway say they’re sorry for the interruption.
4. People expect you to “pick-up” every time they call you, and complain when you don’t.
5. If you carry a cell-phone you are never free from interruptions.
6. Just as you’re pulling into the rendevous, you get a call saying they can’t make it.
7. People standing in line at the bank, bored, will get out their cell-phone and call you.
8. As you wait for someone who is late for an appointment, they’ll call you from across the street saying they have arrived. (True).

10. A bit smarmy and you probably already know it.
Emerson and ‘Abdu’l-Baha were like-minded in saying every individual must throw off the shackles of all previous learning, all previous prejudices, all previous assumptions, all previous ways of thinking, and thus independent of all love or hate or personal opinions and the collective “wisdom” of your society, look at new ideas and discoveries with fresh eyes and independently decide if it co-incides with reality. This is the “independent investigation of truth.” Ralph Waldo Emerson said you must first discard everything you learned from your parents, teachers, and priests if you want to search for truth. He made this statement (and others) speaking to a church congregation and he wasn’t invited back for forty years.

“The first sign of faith is love.”   –‘Abdu’l-Baha

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Stop the Presses!

It is March 20, 2017 in Kunming China and I’m here, and WordPress now works in China! Welcome back everybody, it’s great to see you again!

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Still Closed

China’s still closed to WordPress as of February 20, 2017.

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It’s a Firewall, Right?

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Since the summer of 2011 China has blocked WordPress, and a bunch of other stuff on the internet.

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Writer’s Block and War

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“Writer’s Block” is an illusion, but we create it for myriad reasons. Want to get rid of yours? Sit down and write one-hundred words–any words you want–random sentences, phrases, words in a dictionary, today’s headlines, a recipe, or what I’ve just written and not edited.

Then stop being the “writer” and become the “editor”! Why? A writer is active and an editor is passive. If action is demanded, you’ll sweat and freeze up. If you’re passive, all you do is fix things. Have you ever heard of “editor’s block”? You don’t believe it’s this easy? Here: 

Illusions come in all shapes–cones, cylinders, pyramids, blocks. As children we created myriad shapes, but other children would try to destroy them. Want to get rid of them? The other children? Read them a recipe or today’s headlines. Useless suggestion? Then murder them, but only if you first declare war on them.

“He who joyfully marches to music rank and file, has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice…. It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.” –Albert Einstein or Camus?

Answer: Einstein

Have you ever watched a military parade–rank by rankfile upon file–especially an old black and white parade without music or a soundtrack? It’s quite eerie, and, comical. You half-expect Charlie Chaplin to suddenly stick his face in front of the camera, and made up to look one-half like Hitler and one-half like Einstein, mimic the marching spinal cords.

There, see how easy it is? The rest of what you write is your choice, and you’ll find yourself inspired to continue writing about either Chaplin or Einstein or Camus or war or prison.

Or delusion: “The earth is our tomb, yet see how the children of men spill each other’s blood to possess it.” We experience our own selves as being separate from other human beings because we have unlearned that we are, in fact, a part of the whole–ask any baby who we really are, and it’ll stop crying and smile at everybody. So we become beasts, and as Pogo once said, “We have found the enemy, and he is us.”

Yes, friends, we are the problem, not writer’s block, and until we return to babyhood and relearn how to embrace all living creatures who share this “big blue tomb,” we’ll continue to cry endlessly .

“A human being is a part of a whole…. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest… a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” —Albert Einstein

“When I talk about the Vietnam war, I talk like a beast and with great anger. If I talk like a man with reasoned consideration and compassion I will cry. Cry endlessly. —

“He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.”  —Dr. Johnson (epigraph, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson)

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Clive, Phil, Walter and Francis–Experts All

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“And in both cases they said we know how do this better than you. Go away. I mean they said it nicer than that, but that’s naturally what you get. That was not from the director (Scott Derrickson) by the way who was extremely nice, but it was from some of the suits at Dimension’s who had absolutely no interest in Clive Barker’s involvement in a Hellraiser movie. Why would you get Clive Barker involved in a Hellraiser movie?

“The thing about a sequel or sequels is that everybody becomes an expert. Everybody who’s seen the other movies all feel ‘We know how that’s done.’ ”  

Clive Barker answering Question #2 at the Egyptian Theatre, August 25, 2000

Obviously, everybody doesn’t know how it’s done. Genius and art make good movies, and art isn’t simply copying what has been done before. An abundance of talent, experience, and drive (not to mention the appropriate demeanor and trim of beard and looking like Darth Vader) is always required for box office prizes, or more rings–Phil Jackson Phil Jacksoncan’t just show up as the coach of a fabulously talented Laker team and win more championships if all he does is punch a time clock. The reason that most sequels fail is that you can’t go a second time on a first date and expect to experience the same giddy anticipation and excitement. So most of us with no experience to direct or coach (or date somebody twice) would readily agree that to manage and deal with the cool disdain and arrogance that permeate the highly vaunted egoes that skitter across the entertainment and sports stages would be a task not even worth considering–(“Who’s the runt with no credits?”)

But I have learned over the years while dwelling in foreign lands (well, land) that people who bring to these shores their national-cultural-jingoist biases have absolutely no problem with instantly assuming the air of an expert, and they’ll gladly tell you exactly what is wrong with the people and country you live in and what should be done to fix it and why you should listen to them say so ad nauseum.

And it doesn’t matter how long they have been observing the land and people on whose merits they have come to feel compelled to give instruction–one week (a tourist), a month (an extended vacation), or ten years (nothing better to do)–they will put forth assessments at complete variance with one another and adorned with their particular prejudices and uneven degrees of myopia, and continue doing so until  their arrival back on their own shores, and there, with short surcease, take up once again to offer their expertise to naive and like minded audiences who look at each other and gasp in crescendos at the telling of strange tales from far away lands–have we really not progressed over the last 400 years? Are we nothing more than Sirs Walter “Have a smoke!” Raleigh (1552-1618) and Francis “Armada, Schmarmada!” Drake (1545-1596), distant relatives and budding seeds of what was to become the British Empire which opened the doors to “experthood” for the rest of us?

And I’ll admit I’m guilty, I’ve done my part, too. It’s fun! It’s fun to know something about which very few people know anything, and freely exaggerate as you go, depending on how much you have imbibed, and feel the spark of confidence that dazzles the crowd and elicits their effusive approbation, listening to them issue forth their “oohs” and “aaahs”–and why not? If you are looking for sport you can twist the audience any which way as is your wont, either making them wish they were as adventurous as you, or, with extreme insinuation, having them praise God that they’re nothing like you and have been blessed with the wisdom to stay home for the duration of their lives and leave the travails of mastering the world and stage to the savvy likes of Mssrs. Drake and Raleigh and Jackson and Barker.

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Nuke China! But not while I’m here.

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Both AP and Reuters reported that the Chinese government was displeased with President Obama’s reception of the Dalai Lama. Both accounts were posted by Yahoo.com and below is a sampling of reactions submitted by readers. The first comment imparts to us the very essense of what the world of “reader comments” is all about:

“I don’t even bother to read the articles anymore. I read the headline, scroll to the bottom, and post a comment against the party that I hate.”

If that isn’t direct enough for you (with regard to China), then there’s this: “Lets stiff them for all of their money! then nuke ’em.”

And: “Bring it on China. I’m sick of fighting these endless guerilla wars anyway. I’d like to see the full force of the US military when they’re actually allowed to use it against another legit military.”

To a “yahoo” respondent who said the US military is currently too extended to destroy China, another “yahoo” said: “Our military is too powerful. We could destroy this planet without using half of our weapons. I despise reading ignorant comments from fools like you. We have weapons that could destroy all of China within minutes.” My response to this would be: “But would you really want to?” But I didn’t post it, of course, because he probably would want to make oatmeal out of a fifth of the human race. Maybe if he believed in God he would hesitate before flipping the switch, or maybe, it would make him reach for it a little bit faster. But enough conjecture, shall we blather on?

One of my favorites: “Don’t you know that you are targeted for total destruction if you cause our country to disembowel you?”

Another contributor, calling for restraint and stating that the Chinese people are not the problem, wrote: “It is the Chinese government that is the problem. Along those same lines, people don’t fight wars, governments do.” To which I replied: “If it were true that ‘governments fight wars,’ and not people, there would be a lot less wars.”

Then followed a warning: “They (the Chinese) behave much like North Korea, and we are close to nuking North Korea. Tread lightly, China.”

And a friendly warning for those closer to home: “WWIII….Brace yourselves…Get right with Your Maker…”

And an unfriendly proposal for those fellow-Americans sitting across the aisle: “You sick moefoes ought to be taken out back and shot.”

Then somebody mentioned the fact that the US dollar is smaller than the Canadian dollar, which, I guess, is tangentially pertinent to the Dalai Lama’s visit, and this diversion from China to Canada elicited this remark: “I’m an American living in Canada for past 5 years. If it’s ANYTHING American..they don’t want us. These people are some of the most rude, arrogant and backwards people on the planet..they just have everyone else fooled with their friendly smiles when they come down to the States to vacation! They HATE us.” Which made me want to respond, let’s nuke Canada, too!

In responce to someone’s ill-composed criticism, a condescending exhortation: “norman! normannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn! is that some kind of new english your practicing? i find its better to insult someone when using correct grammar…just saying” This grammatical advice contains a mere two grammatical errors.

Someone else opted to swim against the flow and comment on behalf of China’s future: “In ten years China is going to be #1 and the USA will be #2.” This provoked a contagion of very ungracious “replies,” probably by gun-owners possessing multiple guns. Myself, being a loyal American and a defender of truth and liberty, but a chicken at heart, would have supported the original claimant with: “It is my understanding that the United States is already #2 in many areas, as well as #3 behind both Japan and China in the purchase of luxury items. Furthermore, our great, though diminishing, wealth is presently not even enough to keep us ahead of Cuba, that veteran and unwilling performer in a 50-year marathon economic embargo/blockade imposed by the United States, with regard to infant mortality rates.”

Dear reader of this post, if you would like to blather, uh, contribute anything more to this discussion of the “Dalai Lama” a.k.a. “Canada,” “English grammar,” and “fellow Americans,” you’re welcome to leave a comment, even if “you haven’t read this post.”

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