May 2007


May 31st, 2007

Today is international Say No to Tobacco day and I sit here a little angry with myself. You see, for a fair portion of my life I was a smoker and I'd stopped for a few years only to start up again this past January. I wasn't smoking cigarettes anymore, mind you, but Swisher Sweet cigarillos and mini-cigarillos. Still, tobacco is tobacco and this newly acquired habit didn't even have the benefit of a filter!

And so for the last five months or so I've smoked on and off. Sometimes I've been angry with myself and at other times frustrated. Why am I smoking again? Why did I give in so easily? And why can't I give up?

Answer: I like smoking!

That's the truth of it. I like that first cigarillo of the morning. I like one before I go to bed. Hell, there are a thousand excuses to have one. Work's stressful and a cigarillo is a chance to step away for 5 minutes. In the morning one will wake me up better than coffee or Red Bull (and without the jittery side effects). I'll have one if I've just finished something difficult around the house (say yard work) and I'll have one when I get from A to B. What other excuses do I have? I'm in a bad mood so I'll have one. I'm in a good mood so wouldn't one be nice? My daughter's driving me up a wall, I'll light up! I had a difficult conversation with the love of my life…oh, what the hell! And so on and so forth.

Over the last three or four weeks I've gone from smoking nothing all day to smoking a handful in a day and frankly, I'm sick of it and I'm sick of not having the will power to finally be done. I'm sick of the money unnecessarily spent on it and I'm sick of the fact that I usually buy a soft drink to cover up the taste. Oh, I am so mad at myself!

Why do things that are absolutely bad for us feel so damn good?

Maybe so we can grow.

May 29th, 2007

Last week I made the mistake of listening to The President give a press conference on the White House lawn. I'm not exactly sure why I do this to myself. It always causes something inside me to twist and I end up wanting to take a shower. Yuck! I guess I gotta know what's happening in the world.

For a moment let's forget my distaste for the administration and simply focus on some things he said.

When a reporter asked him what they were doing about the three missing American troups his answer was short. He didn't seem fairly confidence and bumbled an answer that essentially was simply, "We're looking for them." This explanation lasted less than twenty seconds after which he went into a rambling monologue about the necessity of the War on Terror (which again isn't technically a war as Congress did not formally declare one). The amount of time lent to the question of the safety of these troops and that focused on his agenda left my gut twisted.

When the conflict in Darfur was brought up he said Miss Rice was imposing a harsher set of sanctions against the country. I heard this and I was agast. First, this is the height of hypocricy. According to the Bush Administration, sanctions and U.N. investigations into Iraq weren't effective so we were "forced" into military action. And yet in a country where an estimated 450,000 people have died from violence and disease we just stand back, impose sanctions, and cross our fingers. Am I the only person that finds this ethically contemptable? Here we are, greatest power in the history of the world, the ability to step in and stop genocide, and we don't. Why? Because they don't have oil and they are not in a strategic military position (unlike two other countries I might mention--if you haven't figured this one out yet).

Now would someone give me a drum roll?

When asked about our relationship with China Bush went into a tirade about Beef. BEEF!!! Here we are about to spend another 100 BILLION on a war we're losing (May has had the highest number of American fatalities of 2007 in Iraq) and the guy is getting excited about bringing beef into the daily diet of the average Chinese citizen. Not only is this questionable from a health perspective (hey, we're already selling them millions of dollars of cigarettes a year so why not?!) but it goes right back to what's important to this administration: not peace, not life, not a future that creates a level playing field for all, but more green in the pockets of those at the very top.

I look forward to a day where the American government engenders the ideals it was originally founded on.

P.S. Can someone tell me of one decision this administration has made to better humankind? Six years into this cluster-fuck and I'm still at a loss.

May 28th, 2007

A few years ago I wrote a little ditty on Forgiveness. Since then my views haven't changed much but I often find myself questioning my relationship with it.

Case in point: late last week I had a chance encounter with someone from my past, one of the few people I have not been able to forgive for their part in a series of events that left many hearts broken and left devastation in the lives of many. This person was one of the few pathological liars I've ever met and used lies of all sizes to distort the truth, take advantage of others, and generally protect themselves from having to take responsibility for their actions and choices--so of course the chaos that they helped create wasn't their fault, it was everyone else's. For someone who said they hated "drama" so much I'd never seen someone intentionally create so much unecessary drama in my life! On a more personal level they took advantage of me, physically and emotionally. This person represents the antithesis of everything I value.

And so there I was, walking past this person, doing a subtle double take, and somewhat glad that they wouldn't engage me in a vacuous conversation about how my life was going. I thought it would have been so nice to just be angry and hate filled but though I didn't feel positive emotions for them I didn't feel hate. Instead I asked myself: Is it time to forgive?

That's hard. I don't see forgiveness as something given to another without an apology. Sure, we can forgive ourselves. And sometimes we need to bend the rules a little and forgive someone who's no longer living. But how can we forgive someone who in no way, shape, or form, has demonstrated an ounce of remorse or apology. What if we have every reason to believe they still feel justified for the way their behavior has adversely effected the lives of others?

What does it say of my ability to forgive if I am unable to forgive one who I feel does not deserve something so healing and essential to life?

May 21st, 2007

Haven't been remembering too many of my dreams as of late but this morning I had several hours of dreams, one after another. Most were quirky ditties that didn't make too much sense but one went on and on, perhaps for ten or twenty minutes.

In it I was visiting an old friend I haven't seen for nearly half a decade. I was at his home which was clean--which contrasted greatly to the mess of garbage, beer cans, and cigarette butts I was accustomed to. In the dream he was dressed casual but not dingy, as I was used to, and he continually had a calmness about him. Again, the contrast from his sarcastic and sometimes biting humor was stunning.

The dream went on like this for some time. He was the same man with the same interests including movies and various hobbies which he was actively engaged in but everything was clean and tidy. His attitude was positive and care free. When we sat down at the table I met his wife (last I know he is not nor never has been married) and she was also bright and brought out the best in him. They were making pancakes and I remember I didn't have a plate and I got a little bent out of shape about this but it wasn't until I asked politely that they gave me a plate and then pancakes.

And so the dream continued with me being stunned by the positive energy that had never before been in the home and finding myself toiling with my own inability to accept it for what it was. I woke up so blown away by the dream I wondered if there was something psychic under the layers. Had his life improved? Did he want me back in it? Did he die or will he die soon? (unfortunately sometimes such dreams foretell someone's passing--at least for me). And then I wondered if it wasn't psychic at all, maybe I recognized that the reason I was attracted to him in the first place is that under all the sarcasm and negativity there was a pure spirit of warmth and friendship and maybe I'd just been so blinded by how he treated me years back that I wasn't willing to put that aside to connect on a level where connecting matters.

At the very least I've come to recognize that as forgiving as I like to believe I am I have a long way to go. I was reminded how we view each other is so often on the superficial level and not the spiritual one--and when we allow other people to be themselves and when we encourage them by reacting positively and with support then their spirits are more likely to reach their highest potentials in the physical plane. The irony here, of course, is that to help others reach their highest potential our intent can't be that, it must be no more complicated than unadulterated support and friendship in the present!

May 20th, 2007

If I'd sat down on January 1st and tried to guess what this year would bring my way I would have probably said a lot of work, financial struggles, home improvement projects, more than my share of lonely nights, and a few trips on the old 919. As it turns out I have had a lot of work but what I didn't see was that so many of my co-workers (and friends) would leave. I would have financial struggles but as a result of heightened knowledge and choice I'm saving hundreds of dollars a month over what I was spending just six months ago. Home improvement projects have been slow but are coming along, bring me peace of mind and a sense of achievement. The 919 has been replaced with a new maroon Yamaha FJR 1300A and those lonely nights that had become more or less standard fair?

I have always known loneliness, even during those stints where I had a small group of friends and/or a partner. Being surrounded by a crowd didn't ever assuage this feeling that I was somehow different, apart, or alone. Having a partner often served as a catalyst as the fear of being alone tomorrow or the next day left me incapable of being truly present. And so I stepped into 2007 thinking things would be pretty much the way they'd always been except that somehow along my path I'd learned to just accept loneliness as I'd accepted the rising and setting of the sun every day.

This year has been replete with unexpected firsts. First time since I was six or seven where I haven't felt pangs of loneliness. First time completely opening up to someone on an emotional level. First overnight motorcycle trip with a passenger. First time trusting someone enough to completely put my heart in their hands. First time challenging growing as a human being in a constant and social fashion (whereas previously self-growth was always a personal and private struggle).

And the list could literally go on for pages.

So here I am sitting and I don't know what's around the bend except to say there are many challenges and many, many, chances for personal growth and evolution. I am only learning to accept this new reality and it's constant spurts of insight and I feel blessed, if not a bit overwhelmed at times. And so I'm trying to find a new sense of balance, to be able to balance my life and heart and interests without loneliness, with new challenges and personal reflections, learning to find time to sit down, as I am now, and write and share again. So please forgive the spurts of writing as of late, they are not so much intentional but a reflection of a growing sense of balance I hadn't had before.

P.S. New photos are up on the Visions page!

May 12th, 2007

Was it Wednesday afternoon or Thursday? Off hand I forget as the last week has been so topsy-turvy as to leave me questioning the sanity of this whole "life" thing. Perhaps I should have stayed in the womb?! No, I think it was Wednseday as it was Thursday night that was "interesting" and Friday day where I was so sick and tired I couldn't make it into the office. Yeah, so Wednesday, it was Wednesday.

I met Jason at my credit union around 11:30am. I was sitting there on a semi-comfortable chair reading a book on ADO.NET programming when I saw him walk up on my left. I nodded with a smile, slipped the book back into my backpack, and got up to shake his hand. We chatted for a bit, walked up to the teller, and he brought a huge pile of twenty and fifty dollar bills. Five minutes later the title to my first motorcycle, my hooligan, this 2005 Honda 919, was in his hands.

It's a hard thing selling or giving something away when you've bonded with it as much as I had. I remember standing in the driveway that evening when he came with his father who was going to ride it back for him and I thought this would probably be the last time I'd see her. Well, I knew that but it wasn't until I watched the break light flare up in red as his father pulled in the break lever that I realized that this was the first time I'd seen the break light shine so brightly because I was always the one pressing the break lever.

So yeah, for those of you who don't know this week contained some challenges including this difficult parting (which ironically seems to have been harder for Vipassana than I). And above is a picture I took of my hooligan just minutes after my last ride on the bike and oh, I am a creature that tries to honor the memories, both joyful and sorrow filled.

I know, I know, a fairly dry journal entry and truth be told I haven't been writing too much as of late (though a great deal is on my mind). I plan on getting to things of greater importance, greater depth, but for now....for now I justed wanted to pay honors to something that brought me nearly fourteen thousand miles of joy over several years of my life.

Check it out: Goodbye 919

May 11th, 2007

The theme of today's meandering diatribe is entertainment and in particular how our choice of fictional role models not only says something about who we are, but also influences who we are becoming. To limit this discussion I'd like to focus on a subset of entertainment, in particular television and movies. To fine tune even further I'd like to examine science fiction.

I choose science fiction for two reasons. First and foremost, it's been a huge part of my life. Secondly, creators can hide meaningful themes under the superficial dressings of wild futuristic fantasy worlds.

So stories that we choose because of who we are and stories that influence who we are becoming...

Show: Star Trek (TOS)
Characters: Kirk, Spock, and McCoy
Nickname: The 'Trinity'

I must have watched my first episode of Star Trek ("The Original Series" or TOS) when I was three or four. At that age I was easily entertained and the special effects and powerful emotional elements of this show had me hooked. Must have seen each episode at least 10 times to date.

Though young I consciously recognized the depth of friendship between the three officers of the Starship Enterprise. Sure, William Shatner's acting was a bit over the top, yes, Leonard Nimoy sometimes let emotions slip as a Vulcan, but I couldn't help but be strongly attracted to the unquestionable bond they had for one another. They'd die for each other.

I could only dream of having such friendships!

My main influence growing up, as I have suggested before, was Spock. His keen intelligence encouraged me to learn about everything I could, get good grades, and play with computers. His ability to make decisions without allowing emotion to overtake him provided a role model for me when dealing with some very difficult times as a youth.

How did the show influence me?

I began to engender a strong belief that friendships should be strong, committed, and should not be taken lightly. I recognized that each of us has our unique skills and we all work best if we play off each others' best sides while challenging each other when we need it. And unfortunately I pushed a lot of my emotions down (thanks Spock) and later had to admit to myself that even if I consciously chose my actions in life my emotions existed and should be acknowledged (the consequences of not doing so being quite dire).

Movie: Star Wars Trilogy
Characters: Luke Skywalker, Han Solo

The first time I saw Star Wars was in a drive in theatre just outside of town. I was blown away. This story contain elements of drama, action, spirituality, and the like. What's not for a six year old to like?

I identified with Luke and Han. Here were two flawed human beings fighting not only the Empire, but their own frailties. Again and again they were forced into unimaginable situations and in this process they grew to arguably love each other and like Star Trek, to the point they'd be willing to die not only for each other, but a larger cause.

And lets not forget the light sabers. Those were cool!

As I grew older and watched the movies (over) I felt a closer affinity to this thing called "The Force". Might there be such an energy in the universe? Might I, by simply learning to control my mind, emotions, and body, learn to manipulate the world outside of me?

I think in many ways these films encouraged my interest and curiosity in the universe. What was possible? What was real? Is it all about a trusty blaster at ones side or was there a power of the heart, mind, and soul, that was pervasive to everything?

I've come to believe that there is something very much like The Force in this universe. From humble beginnings and simple ideas in a trilogy of space adventures a life has blossomed.

Show: Battlestar Galactica
Characters: Starbuck and Apollo

Yeah, the original Battlestar Galactica was a pretty corny show but it was a product of it's time with heroic theme music and characters who seemed to be happy enough even after the almost total destruction of the human race. And yes, at six or seven years old I thought it was the best thing on TV. Hurray!

Looking back I can now see the episodes are more than a bit corny, badly written, and the special effects, though good for the time, are repeated so constantly as to drive one up a wall. That said, this show again brought up important themes I wanted to encourage in my own life:

  • Friendship
  • Courage
  • Self-sacrifice
  • Making lemonade out of lemons (only later in life did I learn this with any real skill)

Show: Doctor Who
Character: Doctor Who

Doctor Who is the longest running science fiction show of all time and I grew up watching episodes of it on the Public Broadcasting System until the BBC (damned them!) yanked the plug.

In it's early days (pre-2005) Doctor Who was what most American's would consider "camp". The budget was small, the acting was often fakie, and the special effects--oh my God, you had to be six to have any suspension of disbelief what-so-ever!

But the Doctor was the kind of guy you grew to love. I mean, here's this super intelligent alien who's hundreds of years old, knows pretty much near everything, is afraid of nothing, and who spends his time traveling, well, anywhere where and anytime he feels like. And not only that, he feels complete wherever he is with whomever he was with.

Doctor Who taught me the importance of just being myself. He made it okay for me to dress the way I wanted to dress, to learn the things and have the interests I wanted to have, and to be a little on the weird side.

Now if only I could master his confidence!

Speaking of the Doctor, not only is he brilliant on the show but also in my dreams. For instance I had this strange dream (which is "normal" for me) that I was on the rocky shore of a lake/river with him and his other companions. Across the water we heard the roaring of some kind of animal and we looked and saw this fantastic creature standing on the water, maybe a hundred yards away. Well I say "saw" but we couldn't really see it since it was a magical creature that camoflaged itself in much the same way as the alien did in the Preditor movies (by bending light around it's body) but we could make out that it had the form of a Griffon.

I was a bit frightened to see such a thing but it was nothing out of the ordinary for the Doctor and I remember him saying, "Oh my, absolutely beautiful. Just amazing! Fantastic!!!" and he wanted to go meet the Griffon so I, over my fear now, assumed we could just try something like, "We come in peace," and get the animal's attention. Instead, after the Griffon flew into the air, the Doctor picked up a large stone from where we were and we walked to the shore closest to where the Griffon had been. He then raised it up so the animal would see then set it down in the water in the spot where we'd originally seen the animal.

Now I'm not sure about mythical Griffon's but in my dream the Doctor knew that they don't see or communicate the same way we do. Greating them with a shout would have only served to anger or scare it. The Doctor knew that a Griffon, at least in this context, would leave the place it had been originally been seen expecting some type of peace offering from the place it was first seen from. Strange, but true, but the moral of the story is that I don't always know the right way to go about something because sometimes straight forward seems to make more sense than say, picking up a rock and moving it, but sometimes a seemingly odd and out of place action is the right thing to do.

If only I had the intelligence and wisdom to know when to shout and when to move rocks.

Show: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Characters: Bridge Crew

Having loved the Original Series I remember being super uber excited when I learned there was a new series coming out. I counted the days and finally when the pilot aired I had my popcorn and laid on the living room floor just feet in front of the TV soaking up the rays off the boob tube.

I think what rung true for me is the fact that TNG captured an aspect of Gene Roddenberries dream that TOS missed, that is: teamwork. This show wasn't about three characters taking up 90% of the screen time but about a crew that worked together as a fine tuned unit.

Teamwork: Still learning that one and when I think of how to improve on it I often think of the crew of the Enterprise NCC-1701 D.


Show - Quantum Leap
Character - Doctor Sam Becket

What can I say? Here's this guy who's leaping into different people's lives every episode and he has every opportunity to take advantage, commit crimes, setup stock accounts that would earn him billions if and when he finally gets home--but does he? No, he spends every episode trying to help every person he encounters and "make things right".

I couldn't imagine having the strength to do that. Sometimes, when I'm in a difficult situation, I just imagine I'm like Sam Becket. I didn't ask to be there. I don't like being there. But I'm there and I'm going to do the best that I can and you know, I'm going to trip and stumble sometimes but that's nowhere as important as fighting the good fight.

Show: Babylon 5
Character: Ambassador Kosh

Babylon 5 is an aquired taste, even for Sci-Fi afficienados, but I found I loved the intricate plots, amazing aliens, civilizations, and social interactions. Star Trek never even came close to the complexity in B5.

One of the characters I had the most affinity for was an aliened simply called Kosh. Whether that was a name or a title or what have you is never quite clear. We knew that whatever he was no one had seen him and he lived inside an advanced bio-suit. We knew that he wasn't a huge conversationalist.

Kosh was Zen. It wasn't unusual for him to only say one thing an episode. For instance during a time he was teaching the captain of the ship about personal knowledge and enlightenment and, if I recall, he just said, "Beauty" or "Peace" and at first we all wonder what the hell he's talking about the BOOM it all falls into place and we really Kosh is a pretty smart advanced cookie who needs to say very little, if anything, to teach a lot, maybe everything.

And then of course we learn what he "really" is and for those who haven't had the chance to watch this space opera episode by episode, I'll keep that important secret to myself.

Book/Movie/Mini-Series - Dune
Character Paul Atreides - Maudib

Dune is perhaps one of the best science fiction stories ever written. It's a tale of a futuristic galactic civilation that faces many of the same problems we do including but not limited to battling rivalries between families (goverments), the struggle for resources, the subjegation of people to get those resources, spirituality, religion, and the desire for a savior.

Though I don't nearly have the powers of Maudib, I have a perception of the universe that is above and beyond what is considered "normal". Sometimes, like him, I have visions of the future. And like him I feel a sense of inner termoil over what I know will happen. What do I do with it? How do I communicate that with others? And how do I stand up for what is right amongst all this when sometimes what I see scares the living hell out of me?

One of the themes of this story is that of being thrust into a role we'd much rather avoid...but taking it on anyway because we know it must be done. No, the fate of a galaxy is not in my hands but sometimes the fate of a friendship or something else is and I try to use my skill and perceptions to stand up for what I believe is right.

Show: Battlestar Galactic (Revised)
Characters: All (including the "bad guys"!)

When I heard they were making a new Battlestar I was exstatic. This was a program I loved as a little kid and the chance to see a Viper in space flight again fighting against the cyclons just tickled me. What I ended up seeing when the mini-series aired blew my mind.

This is not your old Battlestar.

This program is dark, intense, and honest. The characters are real. Their emotions are explosive. With the exception of a few thousand the human race has been wiped out and this program takes an honest look at what this experience would be like. What would it be like to have something you've created come back to destroy you? What would it be like for the last few thousand to be constantly running for their survival? What would it be like to cope with this amazingly diffuclt crap while dealing with one's own psychological issues such as aloholism, personal relationships, paranoia (is your buddy a Cylon?), and the constant fear that today's the last day of your life.


What I love in particular about this show is the theme that we need to be rational about our priorities, work together, and forgive each other. When someone's out there trying to kill you it's not helpful to get into fights with your dad or son about's important to stand up for one's values but there comes a point where the characters realize that though there differences sometimes feel insurmountable, there are bigger fish to fry!

And I often feel like that in real life. I've seen hell. I've felt like others were trying to destroy me. And during those times I've often taken something minor, in comparison, and used it as ammunition for a seemingly insurmountable fight or argument. In retrospect I can say my reactions didn't make sense and perhaps I was trying to exert control over the small things because the big things felt so big I'd never be able to overcome them and...I think that's often true with the crew of the Battlestar who continue forward, fighting against impossible odds, towards hope, towards a new home they call Earth.

And so should we.

May 4th, 2007

"Does God have a concept of time?"

That's the thought I woke up with this morning. Having always made the assumption that "God" or whatever He, She, or It is, was omnipotent, it never came up for me. God always existed both inside and outside the confines of the space-time continuum able to be anywhere (omnipresent), anytime, so there was no question that a concept of time was just how things were.

What if God wasn't omniscient in that fashion?

Perhaps one day (I use this term loosely as I say it under the assumption that S/He/It has no concept of time, at least as we do) He was just doing His thing when He said, "Let there be light" and suddenly there's a universe with energy and matter and by extension of that, a little something called time--but God doesn't see time, just this marvelous tapestry that's been painted from one end of time to the other. And so in this "place" God doesn't experience reality the way any of us do, there's no sense of now or then or what will be, but a constant sense of being and experience that extends throughout time and space even if S/He/It isn't "consciously" aware of that in the manner a subjective being is accustomed to.

I've heard the idea that the Universe created intelligent life so it could look back on itself with awe. But what if we just happened to be an interesting side effect and God, experiencing only pure consciousness, one "day" looked back at Herself and said, "Woah! Look, there's a now! And a later! And a before! WTF?! This is wild and crazy stuff I didn't rightly expect!? I'm going to keep this project going and see what else pops up!!!"
Or maybe this thing we call God cannot experience creation in a fashion anywhere near to what we do. Maybe God just is everything and everywhere and every time. Just being. And maybe our relationship to each other and animals and plants and the planet--maybe our relationship to God isn't much different.

Perhaps by simply being we're in effect being closer to the Divine? Perhaps we're all deluded? Perhaps I love the dark chocolate!?

P.S. Sometimes I feel reaaaaally dumb!

May 1st, 2007

Today's going to be a short entry, just wanted to share a few links with you. First and formost, Happy May Day. I don't know much about May Day but I did learn recently, thanks to a beloved friend, that it coincides with a celebration in Hawaii called Lei Day:

Check it out at:

I also listened to a podcast today of Fresh Air with Teri Gross as she interviewed the noted Psychiatrist Philipp Zombardo who I have a great deal of respect and admiration for. Though I may have already heard this (and shared these links with you) I think you might find them interesting if not for any other reason than to examine how we might better our society, especially in terms of how the way we organize our social groups leads to negative behavior.