Sunday, May 30, 2010

Angry at Vegetarians?

D. wrote to the neighborhood elist that a couple of human beings took all her vegetables in her garden. A neighbor saw them doing that... but thought D. had hired them.

D. was so angry that she kicked a hole in her picket fence.

I asked my almost 4 year old grandson what he would do. He said that he'd get angry if someone stole his vegetables.

I wonder what the appropriate Buddhist response might be. And I also wonder how to stop the anger chain. The fence became an unintended victim. And what about all those poor souls that the woman confronts during the day or week or month or year. Are they going to have to pay for her vegetables?

BP has certainly caused more harm than the two human beings who were hungry for vegetables. And some are responding with rage as well. So now BP could be responsible for leaking anger as well as leaking oil. And the anger may go on and on... and be even harder to stop. What is all this anger accomplishing, or is it just adding "insult upon injury?"

Certainly some problems arise. For D., how to secure her vegetables. For BP, how to stop the leak. For Mr. Obama, how to insure that this won't happen again. For D.'s fence, how to live with a hole. Can we just forget the anger and solve these problems?

Saturday, May 29, 2010


I heard a story today that has been bouncing around in my head (and heart).

A golfer from Argentina won a tournament and received a large check for his prize money. As he was walking to his car, he met a woman with tears rolling down her eyes. He asks what's wrong, and she says she has a little boy who is very sick and she is facing enormous medical bills to make him well. He promptly signs his check over to her, wishes her well, and gets into his car.

A few days later, someone who had observed his generosity found out that the woman was a crook, and decides to inform the golfer. He tells the golfer that the whole story was made up, and the woman doesn't even have a son.

"Oh, thank goodness," the golfer said, "that there is no son with such a terrible illness."

iPad drawing #1

No... it didn't come yet. But a friend brought one by for me to play with... and then she worked my drawing a little. I love that you can vary line width and opacity with the speed of your stroke. Wow!

Zen Bird

One grain of rice.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Tickling the Tongue of a Dragon

I saw a Facebook post: Boycott BP.

I wonder why?

Revenge, as in "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth?" Will this make the world a better place?

They will have less money for the cleanup effort. They may have to sell wells to companies that will not serve their customers so well.

Is it a compassionate response to a company that is dealing with a catastrophe? Even if the catastrophe was self-imposed? Suppose a speeding car struck a tree and you could help the driver? Would you pull her out of a flaming car, or leave her to fry because she was speeding?

Will it regulate other companies to be more diligent? What may cause companies to be more diligent will be the lessons learned... that certain failsafe techniques may not work.

In defense of BP, they had two systems to shut off the well in case it exploded. Neither worked. Maybe they were careless. But the entire idea of drilling oil is risking. It is like tickling the tongue of a dragon. Sometimes the dragon will awaken and fire will start coming out in your face.

And then, I wonder, if any one of us is so good as to be able to criticize another? What does it say in the bible about a splinter and a log... "Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye."

Any opinions out there?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

More on Squirrels

From our neighborhood elist... after countless suggestions on how to wage war (on squirrels). It just seems to me an outlet for people's anger. Is it possible to not think of something as an enemy, yet to not feel compassion? (Another double negative for my wife... keeps our brains exercised.)

I don't know.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: J
Date: Thu, May 27, 2010 at 11:05 AM
Subject: Re: [rosedale] Ending the War on Tomato-Eating Squirrels
To: Kim Mosley , "Rosedale Neighborh.Ass Neighborh.Ass"

Let's be realistic. In some parts of the country tree shortage may be a problem for squirrels, but not in Austin. They also have more pecans then they can eat. I don't think of them as enemies, but I do not feel sorry for them and will keep them off the tomatoes if I can. ( - : Jacoba

On May 27, 2010, at 9:30 AM, Kim Mosley wrote:
I love tomatoes, but my heart is on the side of the squirrels... or at least I'm trying to grasp this issue from both sides. Back in the days of Davy Crockett I understand that there were enough trees in the US that a squirrel could hop from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from treetop to treetop, without touching ground.

Now we've removed most of their hunting territory, and their transportation system. And most of us aren't starving. So let us all be a little more considerate of our "cute" fair feathered (?) friends. At the very least, we could end the war and stop thinking of them as the enemy. We are both inhabitants of the same planet... and they were here first.


P.S. Looks like this year they'll have some choice pecans to share with us. And, just in case you are hungry for some homegrown tomatoes:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Let the squirrels eat whatever... a view from Mars

Felt like I was a man from Mars today. First off, I thought it was Thursday and acted like it was Thursday, and felt so stupid when I discovered that it was Wednesday.

Then I saw a motorcycle fly down Guadalupe at 100 miles an hour (speed limit 35 or 40). Definitely a bat out of heaven. Very startling.

Went to a store that closes at 8:04 pm. Does that happen on Earth? Got there at 8:02 pm and was able to get the ingredients for my cereal mix tomorrow.

Went to Walgreens and tried to get Rhuli creme for an attack of mosquitoes on my hands. The young clerk had never heard of it. Then I asked the pharmacist. He said he'd never heard of it. I asked him how long he had worked there. 15 years, he said.

My wife claims that it is now Anti-Itch creme by Band-Aid (I'm not being paid for this ad, but wish I was because I wasted today $10 on some junk iPad accessories and $40 on a junk electric razor)... They didn't have Anti-Itch either. Said I should go to their competitor. Walgreens is always almost empty... very strange how they keep going.

Oh, yes, there's the mud that they are squirting into the gusher, a mile down. Will it work? If only I could remember what we did on Mars.

And Apple surpassed Microsoft today. 10 years ago Apple almost bit the dust. So many times I've heard, "we only support Windows." Now I'm waiting for that time when someone will say, "We only support Apples." I mentioned to someone tonight that Apple is the leading computer company. "Not really computers... that's PCs." "No," I said, "computing is changing." I understand more Internet is seen worldwide on smartphones, and there are more text messages the email messages. So maybe the PC is not how people communicate any more. PCs... the computer of yesterday... written on a PC.

Happy full moon, everyone!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Apple Is Said to Face Inquiry About Online Music

This NYTimes article is about a situation a little on the goofy side (IMHO). Amazon is doing an antitrust inquiry on Apple on the basis that it (Amazon) is not allowed by Apple to make an exclusive contract with a record company. I can imagine the suit going the other way. Seems like Apple is keeping two big players in the music business. The antitrust police should thank them.

Talking about "stupid," yours truly wasn't too smart today, thinking he could manage a real estate tax appeal. He failed, and now is going to hire an expert to take over. In the meantime, he (I) missed a day of art making and used up lots of good time and paper.

Socrates was told by the oracle that he was the wisest man in Greece. He (not being so wise as to not believe an oracle) spent his life figuring out how this could be, if he hardly knew anything. (My wife gets on me for these double-negatives). Anyway, he found that even people who knew things had no idea what they didn't know. I should know that I don't know how to deal with the tax assessor's office. If you ever see me in person, please remind me!

I ordered an iPad today. Perhaps a completely useless device, and perhaps the new canvas and the new library. It won't come for a couple of weeks (hopefully in time for my birthday). And don't tell my wife. I want to break the news with some flowers (oh... are you reading this?).

Our bout with dog-sitting is over. I was threatened with a suit for dog cruelty when I photographed the dog with the sign around its neck. I can see child-labor issues, but dog cruelty? It sure is quiet here without a creature stirring around. Maybe I should get a noise machine?

And last, Tuesday is when I'm doan in the temple, which means I'm the time-keeper and bell ringer. I did everything perfect tonight except ring the bells at the right time, and ring them with the right sounds. I need to learn to watch the priest while keeping my eye on the bell. They are about 190° apart. I think I will have my right eye repositioned into my right ear. That will make things easier.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Not Happy Forever

Crisis Imperils Liberal Benefits Long Expected by Europeans

Most of the universal health care discussions mention Europe and how far behind we are. I was fascinated by the above article, and by the coming demise of socialism in Europe (others may call it something different). In 1980 the European Union countries devoted 16% of their  GDP to welfare and in 2005 devoted 21%, with France at 31%. We devote 15.9% to welfare. Because of the reduction in workers, they are in a bind. Their lifestyle, healthcare and early retirement are not sustainable. Retirement ages are increasing, and healthcare benefits reducing. Are we attempting to copy a broken model?

Kim and Linda's

We've been babysitting this dog. Maya is unusual in that she can read and write. That's what she gets for having been raised by Ms. Dr. in Literacy and a very smart father too. Anyway, she came into my office a few minutes ago with this sign that she had written. I'm sure her old parents will be disappointed... but dogs have rights too... and possession is 9/10 of the law, isn't it?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Accidents Just Happen

Rand Paul yesterday criticized Obama for lashing out at BP, saying that they never said they weren't going to be responsible for the spill. I agree that Obama is the president of the entire country and shouldn't pick enemies with such facility.

But I was dismayed with Rand's assertion that "accidents just happen." I started going through accidents with which I was familiar. Yesterday I melted butter in a small glass. My wife warned me about doing this for years. Finally she started doing it herself. Then I got brave and melted a little more butter than usual for some artichokes. That was enough to break the glass. "You should have used pyrex," she said. An accident? Not really. I was living on the edge (so to speak), and paid dearly (well, not so dearly...the glass probably cost 25¢).

BP didn't just have an accident. They were rushing things, and they had been warned about various violations in their drilling. They are living on the edge, and now we (including the oceans) are all paying. And there are over 3000 similar drilling operations in the gulf. Are we going to wait for other accidents to "just happen?" Being sloppy here is a threat as great as any terrorist attack. Telling companies that they can do what they want as long as they are responsible for the damage is not enough. Somehow the oil companies need to insure us that they are taking all steps* to not have "accidents just happen." Sorry, Mr. Rand Paul, I'm not with you on this one.

*I can imagine independent regulatory organizations that could watch over drilling operations. We don't need to give this role to Uncle Sam. We merely need to require that they have been certified to be "safe" as we do with the medical profession.

Thanks to AR for the drawing to "alter."

Friday, May 21, 2010

Capitalists are Ruthless

R wore a t-shirt the other night with the slogan "capitalists are ruthless." He said (from a Buddhist perspective) that no matter what you think about them, that's what they do. I didn't argue, but I thought to myself that "ruthless" has negative connotations. Yes, some capitalists probably get pleasure from stomping on people, but so do some socialists. Certainly some level of shrewdness helps a capitalist become successful, but calling them all ruthless might be going too far.

As I drive down the street, I'm amazed that most of what I see are comforts created by capitalism. Houses, cars, landscaping, and roads are all put into place to make someone money. Someone wanted to make a buck, and in doing so, improved another's quality of life. That "someone" might have been ruthless. They might have charged "as much as the market would bear." In doing so, they created a better world. I wonder what alternatives we have?

Exxon-Mobil doesn't have a great reputation for being committed toward helping others, though their foundation is quite generous, with a very generous donation to Texas Universities. Maybe not generous enough for some, but certain in the league of other large companies.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Ron Paul's Son, Rand

I think Rand is being honest when he says that he abhors discrimination. I also think he's playing with words when he says that he will not work to repeal the Civil Rights Act. Not that he wouldn't like to repeal it, but he knows that to attempt to do so would be political suicide.

There are many ways to skin a cat (why one would want to do so is beyond me). There are many ways to change behavior. One is through law and another is through persuasion (either by thoughts or action). Libertarians wish to follow the latter, when possible, knowing that when we use the law to change behavior we run into two risks: one that we may be wrong in our determination about what is "right action" and second, there may be unintended negative consequences from the law. One of these consequences is the limit that each law has on our freedoms.

Most people embrace laws that jive with their beliefs. If I were king, I'd make a law that no one can wear any clothes that cost more than $10. And no human should eat meat. And no one should smoke cigarettes in the presence of a kid. And on and on. Maybe you'll agree with my laws when they match your beliefs. But is that the society that is the "home of the free?"

Just because someone doesn't believe laws are a preferred means toward regulating humans doesn't tell you much about their beliefs. One problem with discrimination laws is that they give us a false sense of accomplishment. Yes, African-Americans can sit anywhere on the bus, but, as Kate pointed out, the bus is still not integrated. That will take a change of heart.

(Note: I vowed to write no more opinion pieces. That was until this issue made the news, and I saw a man struggling to explain himself, and in the process, compromise his integrity by not really explaining what he believes.)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

It was just play.

I played a stone mason today,
chiseling angles from limestone
that we set around the pond.
After an hour in the hot sun,
I put my tools aside and
took a shower, 
the wall could wait
until tomorrow.

It was just play.
I think of a real
stone mason, who
comes to work at 8 am,
and chisels and
hauls rubble
until 5 pm.

Hour after hour
day after day
week after week
year after year.
A real stone
works in
hot sun and
cold rain,
without neither

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Two Worlds on the Same Planet

First stop was
the North End Terminal
in Memphis—
hundreds of
dark skinned
men, woman, and children
waited as busses
came and went.
Occasionally someone would
see someone familiar,
and they'd catch up a bit.

He'd sell
a cigarette
for a couple of quarters
(we used to give them away—
but they were cheap then).

Their bus would come
and they'd board it,
with difficulty,
for the bus might stop anywhere
along a long driveway,
and they'd have to run
to catch it.

A big man, hunched over,
sweeping up the cigarette butts,
and straws, and wrappers
(as Sisyphus rolled the boulder
up the hill) .
He'd try hard
to keep
the waiting area
but it seemed to gather debris faster
than he could

Another man, with a battery powered
wheelchair and guide dog, boarded a
bus with a ramp. Someone came up to him to
ask him about his dog.

A woman, three hundred pounds,
at least, had a neck brace.
I asked her
if she was in a car accident.
"No," she said, "I fell down the stairs."

An hour later, my bus arrived at
the airport.
I was the only light-skinned
one to board
and the sole rider
to made the entire journey.

At the airport there were almost
no dark-skinned ones,
and no man
sweeping cigarette butts.
Planes were coming and going,
with covered carpeted
conditioned walkways
leading to each plane.

Two worlds in the same day.

A very successful exec.
in pre-washed designer jeans,
spoke confidently and endlessly
to a rash of associates
on his cell.

His conversations were
broadcast to all.
He tried to get comfortable
on the airport seats,
slouched this way and that,
with one foot on the table
his seat and the next.

Two worlds on the same planet.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Bus to airport

It must be a miracle if I get to Texas today this way.

Recording w/Elvis

That's All Right Mama

1st Elvis Recording was here

Elvis's First Television Appearance

Listening to Elvis's first recording

w/teary eyes

King's Stool

Sun Studio

Shakin' Goin' On w/Elvis

Walker Radiator Works


Walking to Sun Studios to record with the King

Hit Chikin Pitch Burgerz

Breakfast in Memphis

Continuous Elvis too on the speakers.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Pig: Pork w/an Attitude

BB King's Blues Club

Tactical Platform

Memphis Queen

Last Night's Wedding

Forces join, wondering how 
they could ever
be separate.

Families join, once not knowing 
each other, 
and now, 
not knowing how 
they could have not.

The passed elder says,
three things are important—
health, happiness, and 
long life. 
All guaranteed to be 
curtailed, someday,
but for now,
for yesterday, and today,
we have all three,
many times over.

For today, over and
over and over again.

Friday, May 14, 2010

I'd really get angry if that happened to me.

(L to R: Gary Libman (brother-in-law), Rev. Kyle, Gail Libman (my sister))

I heard that a lot today. Not major events, but minor things. We buy a car and we are happy when it works and swear bloody murder when it breaks. So, basically, we break when the car does. How often did I want to say, it is just an opportunity to practice? But that feels quite dispassionate, doesn't it?

I was wiped out today by the National Civil Rights Museum where MLK was shot. To make the experience really amazing we ran into Rev. Kyles who was with MLK when it happened and was able to be a witness and speak of the event. Man's inhumanity to other men is more than I can take. One of the holocausts that takes place on our soil.

I asked Rev. Kyles if we've made things better. "Yes," he said. "There is no question about it. And we have much farther to go." An opportunity for me to "practice!"

Memphis - National Civil Rights Museum


Music from trolley in Memphis

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Biggest Problem Artists Face

The biggest problem for the artist is showing up at his/her studio. Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) said, "Chance favors only the prepared mind." William Blake (1757–1827) said, "Without unceasing practice nothing can be done. Practice is art. If you leave off you are lost." Each of these giants was talking about a path to success. Though Blake seem to be alluding to "practice as the end" as Suzuki Roshi (and many others) spoke of it.

It is quite a feat to knock your head against the wall of your studio day after day, wondering what will emerge (besides a flat head). But the focus has to be on the knocking, not on what emerges.

Artists use lots of excuses to stay away from their studio. Sometimes I remind myself that Sartre, the existential philosopher, wrote his best stuff after working 70+ hours a week as a journalist. There are stories and stories about artists with little time who had a steady art practice.

The secret is to go tomorrow to the studio, and not to worry about the results. Chance says that good things will come from time to time. Faith can help one believe that, if you must have good things. But imagine if you just made less bad things. Or maybe dispense entirely of good and bad and just think about Blake's "practice is art." Isn't that enough? Harry Callahan, the legendary photographer, had a dry spell for ten years late in life. Every morning he'd go out and take pictures. Then he'd come back and develop his film, eat lunch, and then print. Nothing worked. But after ten years of this, good stuff started to happen.

In the end we'll all have plenty of time to sleep. Until then, wake up and see what comes out as you beat your head against the wall.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

It's hard. (more on creativity)

We are dogsitting now. 
We just walked the little Maya 
so I needed to take a little break. 
I really was the one with 
the leash.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Someone asked to talk to me about creativity. It is a word that isn't used much around art schools. Probably in the same way fish don't discuss water. We all pretty much recognize it when we see it. "Now that's creative," we say.

Terms like "thinking outside of the box" and "paradigm shift" indicate creativity. We break from convention and find unique ways to do things.

Often, it seems like the creative solution is the most obvious one. Sometimes the creative solution is right in front of us, waiting for us to notice her. Buddha was asked how did he know what he had "discovered." He simply touched his hand to the ground, saying that the earth had told him. He listened to what was in front of him. Creative? I think so.

I'm not really interested in someone looking at my art and commenting, "that's so creative!" In the same way, when I made photographic prints, someone commented, "what beautiful prints." What I want people to see is my heart/mind sharing/magnifying/organizing some part of the world. It is necessary to sometimes do this in a creative way, though we try to do this without pre-meditation. It should at least seem as if this was the most natural way to perform. As with ee cummings, we feel that he's writing heartfelt thoughts in the most direct way he can. We like him because he is so direct. Maybe creativity is sometimes not being (or at least appearing) creative.

Or maybe you'll disagree.

Joshua, 1980