Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What did Buddha mean?

There is a story about the Buddha being asked where a temple should be built. He pointed toward the ground, and a blade of grass sprouted up, marking the spot.

Another story is that he was asked what a robe should look like, and he pointed toward a rice field and said, "like that."

A common interpretation of these actions is that everywhere is sacred. This misinterpretation shows how our Western minds generalize. I think he meant that this place "here" is sacred, as is this moment. Let's not go anywhere else. Be here and now... for that's all that exists, and, as my teacher reminded me the other day, even the here and now only exists in our minds.

Dogen is said to have said that there is no place to spit (because everything is sacred). I tried to find this quote in his writing but could not. I wonder if he just meant that you should not spit here, for this spot is sacred.

What is it about us that wants to form opinions? Why is it not enough to stay with what we have in front of us. One problem with generalizing is that we've left the planet and have gone into our minds. Which is probably what my Western mind is doing now.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Barking Dogs

I can't write anything tonight, I thought, because the dog across the street is barking. He's a basset hound. Now he has stopped. I guess either he respects writers, or else the arsenic laced turkey leg did the trick (just kidding).

Oh... he's alive again.

Anyway, I think pets are silly. Sometimes cute. Sometimes smart. But what a waste of money! I hear stories of people spending vast amount of their money and time caring for their dog. Most of my life I had dogs. Finally I resented the commitment.

So now that I've complained about the Christ in the doctor's office, and the dog across the street that is barking because his master is gone... what is next?

I have a complaint bracelet that I'm supposed to wear... so I don't complain. If you wear it and you complain you are supposed to change it to another wrist. I only have two wrists so I took it off. I guess I could wear it at night... if I had a virgin wrist to put it on. 21 days is all you need to be perfect (not complain). See:

So the dog's owner just came home and I saw him find my note stuck in his door, telling him that his dog was backing. Luckily his dog was barking when he came home... so he won't think I'm delusional. I left my phone number... I wonder if he'll call me.

When you walk dogs here you carry some bags and then you have to scoop up the poop and carry it home. That is not one of my favorite things to do.

Guess I'll volunteer to take care of my daughter's dog next week when she goes out-of-town. He's quite a special creature.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Noam Chomsky Strikes Again

Here is a short clip from Noam Chomsky. He articulates why we should not to spend much time on climate change denialists. I love his comment, "you don't have to be an expert."

There is another group that is not on board with the predictors of doomsday. These are the thinkers who dare to question their colleagues about such a politically charged topic.

I'm reading now a great book, Useless Arithmetic—Why Environmental Scientists Can't Predict the Future, that describes in great detail the difference between qualitative and quantitative modeling... and why in a complex and chaotic world our guesses about outcomes have been so prone to failure. I just read the chapters about fish and AIDS (different chapters). Our numbers were so wrong about what would be sustainable fishing that we have wiped out entire fish populations. Our numbers were very much guesses on the numbers dying of AIDS in Africa. Even the numbers on second hand smoke are very suspect, though we know (qualitatively) that it ain't good to breathe SMS.

I was amused to read about the Oracle of Delphi, who for hundreds of years, told people the truth... always in a stupor. It was later found that the river behind where the Oracle hung out emitted ethylene, a gas that has been used as an anesthetic.

(Click on quote to enlarge it.)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Emotions at the Doctor's Office

Christmas decorations. Innocent. Yet I felt very emotional the other day as the nurses put up Christmas decorations in my doctor's office.

I started thinking about those who don't celebrate Christmas. I felt that they were oblivious to me who doesn't accept Jesus as the son of God. He was a very cool dude, though.

That office has an international clientele. How many of them belong to an assortment of other religions, or no religion? What would they think about the Christmas decorations? Did the nurses and doctors realize that Christmas isn't for everyone.

In California, there is a cross on Mt. Soledad... or was, until enough people complained. Click on the link and read the article.

Is this different than a Christmas tree in a quasi-public place like a doctor's office? I remember that in the Community College where I worked we passed a rule that office holiday decorations had to be non-denominational. I liked that.

Should I complain to the doctor's office? I'm already the trouble maker because I suggested that the nurses change gloves from one patient to the next. They told me that the gloves are to protect the nurses, not the patients.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Banana Peeling Event

Banana peeling was found at Ohare airport turning itself inside out as a protest against Global Climate Change. Airport police were called to douse it with pepper spray but they were stopped in their tracks by coed with smart phone. Canine patrol was then brought in to "bark it into submission" but instead the dogs laid on the backs and laughed. If that wasn't enough, Grandma Moses, flying back to her home in Iowa, started laughing so hard that the banana peeling jumped into the mixer at the juice bar to become totally masticated.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Yes, Kate, teach all the denial theories too!

Kate asked, when reading that I suggested that both sides of the global warning issue should be presented, whether I thought that intelligent design should be presented in a course on evolution. My first response was "no," that is different.

But then I remembered a lecture I heard by a mathematician about why we shouldn't teach intelligent design in the schools. He proceeded to teach a lot of very interesting science in disproving intelligent design. As I listened to him, I started to visualize students coming to school with backward thoughts and how important it is to their education that the errors in their thinking be discussed.

I'm now visiting my in-laws and had the global climate change discussion with my father-in-law. Like 53% of the tea party, he believed that man probably didn't cause climate change, and that soon it was just as likely that it would cool down as it would start to warm up.

I did feel like taking the other side but quickly realized that I would not be able to convince him that, as my global warning teacher says, we are on a train, doing our "own thing" and that the train is about a mile from the edge of a cliff... and soon we would all die.

I wished then that I could show him charts and graphs proving our demise. What better deed would there be than to save the Earth?

Do we all think that what we believe is fact?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

El Contrario, Hijacker

I suggested to the teacher of my global warming class that we hear both sides. He said that he'd been told that if you go there, the class will be hijacked... and you'll never get it back.

I remember my frustration in college, trying to guess what the professor thought about the subject. Did he like this or that artist? Did he like capitalism or communism? Socrates or Kant? It was a good frustration.

In Pilates today my teacher said I was holding my breath. I told her I was mad... and so I started to vent about how I was more interested in the debate than in the resolution. I told her that I'd believe in God if no one else did... just to keep things alive. She didn't believe me.

But it is also that I have a place in my heart for the underdog.

Today some were clapping because a coal plant was being shut down. I felt sorry for the plant, no longer useful to man. I Googled "clean coal" and found a nice article about how we were going to great ends to make coal more tolerable.

If I hear once more that global warning is true because "so many scientists believe in it" I think I'll ... Since when is this a test? I'm not saying that the Earth isn't warming up, or that man didn't cause the warming... I just would like to know more about how we know that.

I named myself, "Mr. Contrary" and a friend coined "El Contrario" which I like better.

So questions remain:
1) What is happening to the Earth?

2) What is the effect of what is happening?

3) If negative, how can we prevent what is happening?
I believe this is a great opportunity to learn about statistics and extrapolation.

Unfortunately (said partly in jest) I'm more interested in the examination of the knowledge and how it has polarized believers and non-believers than I am in the condition of the Earth. How could I take such a heartless position? Probably because I am so skeptical that we know the effects of our actions in such an interconnected world.

In the meantime, I remain committed to what the zen teacher Reb Anderson said, "walk on the Earth as if it is your mother's face."

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Non-profits in a Free Society

Non-profits benefit by their status, allowing them to not pay taxes. They have resources paid for by other citizens, including fire and police protection. Other citizens pay for these resources by coercion, though they may not necessarily subscribe to the aims of the non-profit, whether it be a church or a planned-parenthood center.

Next time I'm asked to give to a non-profit, I should say that "I give at the office." It would be a true statement (if I had a real job).

Sometimes non-profits decide to persuade others to think as they do. This might be to accept Jesus as their lord and savior, or it might be to use every means available to keep a pipeline from being built. Again, this points out the problem of forcing individuals (through taxes) to support an organization that might be advocating for a position that is not their politics of choice.

Some might think the non-profits might sink if they did not get this support. Some will. Others will enjoy a new freedom, where they can now support political action and candidates to their hearts content. And they might get more support from like-minded individuals.

The new revenue to the government hopefully will be returned to the citizenship, rather than to enable the government to become still larger. With the citizenship having more money falling out of their pants, hopefully they will give more charitable contributions than they did before.

And should these individuals be able to deduct their contributions? No! That is just another example of the government supporting the non-profits by subsidizing individuals who give to it.

We could transition to this new status to free non-profits over a number of years to give them time to develop a new base of support.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Pool Career

Someone posted to our neighborhood elist that they wanted a pool player for a team that plays every Sunday evening at Slick Willies. My wife usually goes to dinner with a friend on Sunday nights, so I thought... why not? Maybe I could think of it as Zen archery or something. So I told them I'd join the team.

Last night I got to Slick Willies... watched for a while and then asked if I could hit some balls. They pointed me to a table on the other side of the room... and I played by myself for about an hour. I was surprised at how physical it is... something I had not noticed the last time I played about 40+ years ago.

I came back to my team and noticed that a couple were playing and they were quite good. Then I asked, "how long do the games go?" They said, oh, tonight we'll be done by 9:30, but sometimes we might go to 12:30am.

Realizing that this would be 6 hours and 30 minutes of my life, I told them I didn't want to be on the team.

Maybe I can find a ping pong team. Maybe they don't go on so long.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Press Check

Nothing like a new 5 million dollar press that prints 8 colors and a coating without blinking an eye. Remember when the printer would scoop out some ink with a knife... and put it on a platen or roller... no more! Inside will be run later on today. Then a day each for the next three operations that make it a book.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Almost Printed

New book, Digital Photography: A Workbook, keyed to Digital Photography: A Basic Manual by Henry Horenstein. Let me know if you are a photo teacher and want a review copy.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


I've often heard artists talk about scale as "big." I believe it really refers to "looking big" which is achieved by having something small next to something big, like a small rock next to a bigger one. Notice the stunning color of the one rock, and the texture of the ordinary (not so attractive) piece of concrete. There are some live plants, and some not so live plants. A virtual world, just when I step out of my car.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Hot in Austin

Taken with a DSLR (not an iPhone). 
I think the thermometer hit its limit. 
I thought of this as a crucifix.
If you click on the picture you can see it bigger... and see the temp.

Still lifes with Orange

Inside my morning Mexican restaurant. Amazing sharpness for an iPhone, isn't it? Both pictures taken without moving anything but the camera. The bottom one I saw from where I was sitting and then got up and took it. Then as I brought the camera down I saw the top one in the "ground glass."

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Non-intentional/Intentional (Who wins?)

I turned the corner and was struck with these shadows painting the fence. I pulled out my trusty iPhone and inadvertently took a picture of the street. Much more interesting to me. How about you?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Same old, same old

Most of my pictures seem to have the same composition. I start in the bottom left, Then move to the upper right. Then return down and over to the left. I liked the spots of red and green. I upped the saturation and sharpened it a little. Taken with IPhone 3GS (like most of my recent pictures).

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Costco Intention

I started to take a picture of the edge of my shopping cart at Costco, when another cart began to whiz by. First my inner voice said, "wait." But then another inner voice said, "give it a try." So I did.

Alligatorscape and Hatscape

Friday, August 26, 2011

Checking In...

Finishing up a workbook for learning digital photography. I always said I could get more done if I didn't have a job. I think a cadre of clones would help.

The orange glare on my eyes? Actually a cap I'm wearing while I tried on the hat. Probably should of bought the hat. It was at a yard sale that I was working at...

Back to work...

Oh... I was asked what is my view of the poor. Here's Lewis Hine's view:

Monday, August 22, 2011

Detour Ahead

My walking partner neighbor asked if I wanted him to cut down the tree to get rid of the shadows. No, I said, that's what I'm photographing.

In any case, detours are guaranteed, aren't they?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Texas Alligator

I just noticed my finger blocking off the upper left. Works ok here. Maybe I ought to capitalize on that technique.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

One-way Conversation

A Family of Artists, by Jasper

My dad and mom and me are artists.  My brother Dash is too little, but maybe he will be an artist someday too.

My dad is coming to my classroom to help us make a movie.  It is called an animation.

My dad will use a camera to make the movie and then when it is done we will show it to everybody.

I like being an artist, but I also like surfing and would like to surf on a big wave in California when I get bigger.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Parents as Benevolent Dictators

Benevolent dictators like to think that they are a gift of god. They have one interest, and that is to give people what they want and/or need. I guess it must really be "want" because otherwise they wouldn't be seen so "benevolent."

I heard about a parent today who gave and gave and gave. He held the purse strings, barely gave to himself, but gave generously to his children and even his ex-wife.

I remembered how when our kids were in high school (college?) we gave them a credit card and told them that this was the family money and they had to spend wisely. We were fully open with them about our finances and they were responsible to see that the family didn't overspend.

At lunch today we were talking about this and I said that the benevolent dictator gives everything but what is most valuable. One of us said "freedom." My wife said "autonomy."

Then I started thinking about the Buddhist story of the squashes who fought with each other so the monk had them meditate (a little far fetched?)... and then he told them to touch the top of their head to see where their spine starts. They did and realized they were all connected to each other.

I'm not sure how autonomy and being connected work together. Some one will have to help me with that one. Maybe it is in the meaning of the Buddhist saying "not one, not two."

In any case, if you are a parent (and we all are in some walk of our lives), try to see whether you can shift your family operation to become a democracy. Disclose your assets and let the family decide how the resources might be expended (and/or saved). Not only will this help your kids grow up, but they will have something to show their friends much cooler than the latest iphone.

Anatomy Lesson and Love