Friday, December 30, 2016
My wife has kept me grounded for thirty-five years. We still hold hands at night in bed as we fall asleep.
She is Wicca or Pagan and celebrates the seasons. Her favorite season of the year is Halloween.
She has a broom that was made by an artisan in Appalachia Tennessee; it has a handle of sassafras and she always decorates it to the season.
We have two cats, but the young (Kliban) Coon cat is definitely her familiar.
I was a hard case, on the highway to hell when she agreed to come with me – and I have never understood why.
We have lived in a remote farmhouse with no plumbing, water or electricity while we attended college; we have traveled to Alaska twice, for a total of eleven years teaching school in the remote Indian and Eskimo villages;
we have shared multiple-lifetimes of adventures during our time together; and I can truly say that the thirty-five years I have been with her is the only quality time of my 70++ years.
And if there were eternity
I’d love her there again
My wife practices Wicca – I call her a witch.
She always tells me to be careful what you wish for; because wishes are open ended and you never know what will come along with your desired.
Yesterday I was looking forward to the forecast blizzard. I love a snow storm and the new white snow that seems to cleanse the earth.
It snowed all day yesterday and last night was a whiteout. This morning when I got up and looked out the window… I couldn’t find our car.
We had received well over two feet of snow.
The snow was so deep it was higher than the intake mouth of my snow blower. I had to break the snow up with a snow shovel before trying to move it with the snow blower. In other words, I had to shovel the drive (about forty yards) before I could snow blow the driveway.
I started at seven-thirty and finished around ten-thirty. Three hours and my 70+ year old ass was dragging. I still have the roofs to rake and I am going to have to break trail to my wood shed with snowshoes – but that will have to keep till tomorrow.
The snow, coming off the roof, is up to the base of our windows, and this is just December; with January and February yet to go.
But it is beautiful
And it is winter in Maine
And I love it.
Thursday, December 29, 2016
December 29, 2016
A blizzard is coming. It is not a nor’easter, but it is going to be a good one. Most of our storms come up the coast and then the counterclockwise rotation of the low pressure sends the storm back from the north east; but, this one is coming up inland from the south east. It is kind of a moot point though, for we are forecast to receive 12 to 18 inches of snow by this time tomorrow with wind gust to forty by early Friday morning.
Went to the store this morning for fresh produce and wine. We have plenty of wood laid in by the back door, enough batteries, my simple cell phone is charged and we have books to read.
This storm will wipe away and cover up all the bad news and hurt feelings of 2016 and leave us with a fresh white wonderland to start the new year.
I couldn’t ask for more
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
Friday, December 23, 2016
My wife and I ordered a pizza last Saturday afternoon while we watched the football game. A plain cheese pizza, and I also had a Greek salad made with iceberg lettuce.
Within about five hours I was having to make contributions to Trump’s Cabinet – diarrhea (probably more than you want or need to know.)
The point is - it had to be the lettuce. Iceberg lettuce is a risky green to eat raw this time of year. The heads are handled by the pickers, by the packers, by the transporters, by the produce department at the store, and finally by the person that makes the salad.
This time of year being flu season you would be safer to eat only cooked foods from restaurants, or if you must have a salad, one made only with locally produced greens.
Just a warning
Thursday, December 22, 2016
I loved playing football as a kid; and as an adult I wait with anticipation for the New England Patriots NFL football games on TV.
The violence doesn’t bother me; but, it is fucking aggravating to see a player make a tackle, catch a ball or run for a touchdown then point up in the air like he is dedicating his exploit to God’s graciousness.
This moron doesn’t realize that during the three-hour duration of the game approximately 1,200 children died of diseases, 2,625 children died of starvation, 180 people were raped, and 600 murders were being committed.
I think the idiot is holding up the wrong finger. If his God can get credit for a player’s athletic ability, He should also be held responsible for the cruelty he permits in the world during the duration of the game.
George Mao was a philosophy professor at the University of Maine, and he was miserable. His wife had left him for a pizza delivery boy, his son wouldn’t talk to him, and students avoided his classes. He considered his life meaningless and saw sickness and death his future in his old age.
From an academic philosophy magazine, he read of guru in India that was wonderfully wise, with a great many noted people willing to make a difficult pilgrimage just to receive his council.
George took academic leave and flew to India. The guru was on the top of an escarpment and the only access was a steep and dangerous trail that led to the top.
After hours of walking and climbing George found the guru sitting outside of his cave. George said, ‘Teacher, I am a philosophy professor, I have lived half of my lifetime and I am miserable. Please tell me why we are here. What is the meaning of life?’
The guru answered, ‘The meaning of life is a tea pot.’
George was furious. He said, ‘I have flown across the ocean, traveled across India and climbed this damn mountain and all you can tell me is the reason we are all here is a tea pot?
The guru thought for a minute, then said, ‘Well, maybe it’s not a tea pot.
George could have saved himself the trip and asked me – I would have told him, it’s the hokey pokey.
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
My wife and I exchanged gifts today in celebration of the Winter Solstice.
By all logical thinking today should be the beginning of the new year – the longest night of the old year followed by the renewing of sun and light.
Mankind, in the belief of his own divinity, has regulated time and calendars to reflect his convenience and superstitious beliefs.
We tend to see the stars in the sky as markers place there for navigation; the moon to light our way at night; and the sun specifically to warm us and supply us power.
Everything on this earth we view as placed here for our use and our exploitation. We have even conceited to raise ourselves above Nature by conferring ourselves with everlasting life and devising gods in our own image. We hate, we war, we punish people that are not like us and do not think like us.
Yet, Nature continues unabated with its seasonal changes, winds continue to blow and climate shifts to nullify our destructive tendencies.
The Wicca way, the Pagan was to view nature as the source of our life and to celebrate it as the source of our existence. Just as man has added unnecessary layers to the Buddha’s teachings, Neo-Wiccans and Pagans have tried to embellish these celebrations of Seasonal Change with ceremonies and rituals to empower themselves.
True celebrants realize that the earth is not about them: that their short temporary existence is a gift from Nature – that life is for living, and in the end we are not eternal, and our death is the final obligation we owe to nature.
We should try to celebrate the gift of this new year – a small continuation of our own existence – by putting away negative thoughts and allowing ourselves the small things that bring us pleasure.
Celebrate this marker with us as a chance for a new beginning. Accept the things you cannot change and change the things you must; but live this life to the fullest, because it is finite.
My wife and I will drink to you and think of you as we enjoy a special meal on this special day.
Saturday, December 17, 2016
I believe in the Chaos theory as far as evolution, climate change and human behavior goes. But, there is an overall mathematical order to the universe that can only be denied by Republicans, Religious fundamentalist and morons.
There is a proportion known as the Golden Ratio that has been discovered and rediscovered many times.
A line divided at a point where the large section divided by the small section equals the overall length of the line divided by the large section. The mathematical result is 1.618…to infinity – known as phi or the Golden Ratio.
The great pyramids construction conforms to the Golden Ratio, as does the Parthenon.
The Golden Ratio is also found in DaVinci’s paintings of The Last Supper, the Vitruvian Man, and the Mona Lisa.
About the year 1200 a mathematician named Fibonacci proposed a number sequence that seems to be the basis of the Golden Ratio.
If you begin with 1+1 and then add adjacent numbers in sequence you get: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 54… And if you divide adjacent numbers you get an approximation of the 1.618…. the Golden Ratio.
And so on….
The Golden Ratio appears throughout nature. The adjacent joints of the fingers correspond to the Ratio; the length of the finger to the connection to the wrist; the distance from the navel to the floor and the floor to the top of the head; segment of insects all correspond to the Golden Ratio.
The unique thing about the Fibonacci numbers is that if you display them graphically and connect the intersecting points you end up with the Golden Spiral.
The Golden Spiral appears throughout nature: Many seed heads like the sunflower display the Golden Spiral. The seed cavities of pine cones and even the molecular measurement in a full cycle of the double helix spiral of DNA all correspond to the Golden Ratio and the Fibonacci numbers.
Many sea shells; spiral galaxies like our Milky Way; and even hurricanes all form the mathematics Golden Spiral.
What brought all this math geek on? My wife, knowing that I like math, gave me a necklace with a sea shell portion that produced the Golden Spiral.
Friday, December 16, 2016
TV has kill the femininity of women. We see commercials on TV of women who need pills for gas and yogurt to take a crap, and if they were to show crones dancing at solstice it would probably be to sell adult diapers.
It is kind of sad
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT IS WRONG WITH OUR EDUCATION SYSTEM?
ASK A TEACHER IN THE CLASS ROOM, NOT A POLITICIAN.
There is no standard child. No two children learn exactly alike. No two school classes are alike. Children are not automatons with a diagnostic chip that you can access to review for standard operation, and updates that can be download to correct deficiencies to a set standard.
I have been a teacher. I have taught grades two to 12 and have been a principal of four different schools. For what it is worth, I can give you my take on the public school system.
First of all, we should distinguish between private schools and public schools. A private school’s main objective is not to teach children. Private schools are in the business of making money; and offering parents a school society of ‘people like us.
The public school’s primary objective is to teach children. But, our public schools are not preforming efficiently because politicians, with no teaching experience, are setting the curriculum and standards. Then the politicians use poor school performance as a platform for their next election.
Here is my formula for a productive school.
Standardized test should be done away with. Like private schools, standardize testing facilities are in the business of selling test. Their tests do nothing to encourage and support student learning and to increase student self-confidence.
Because every class is different, the teacher, in coordination with the principal, using the scope and sequence set for that grade level, should determine the daily curriculum and the standard to be met for her/his particular class.
In elementary school there are too many subjects taught to be mastered. Elementary school should focus on four main subjects: reading - to include literature; math; science and writing - to encompass grammar, creative writing, computer word processing and computer literacy.
Cutting down the number of classes in the lower grades insures mastery.
Junior high should have a comprehensive general math review in the seventh grade and geometry in the eighth; earth science in the seventh grade and environmental science in the eighth grade – to include an environmental project requirement; language arts – to include theater, art and art history. There should be an eight grade geography requirement. With the exception of hard math; the seventh and eighth grades should be open ended – encouraging research and creative thinking.
High school students should have a choice of semester length classes to choose from to supplement the following year-long requirements: Algebra One, Biology, Physics, Chemistry, American History, World History, Civics/ U.S. Government – to include a local community project.
Students graduating from high school should have a good general basic education and should have been taught to be logical, critical thinkers with their own opinions.
But the first step is to have the government dramatically increase funding for education; but otherwise stay out of the actual process of educating students.
It goes without saying: there is no place for religious doctrine in public education.
It is a shame that our government doesn’t fund education with the same fervor that it funds the military.
Monday, December 12, 2016
When I was younger (in my 40’s) there was a crusty, grumpy old man that lived near us. I always referred to him as a ‘fucking old buzzards.”
When I turned 65 my wife bought me a stuffed animal: the Ol’Buzzard.
When I signed up for this blog I tried a number of titles and they were all taken. I looked up and the ol’buzzard was staring at me. It seemed fitting – thus the Ol’Buzzard’s blog.
If my wife had any idea that sometimes she would be referred to as Ms. Buzzard she probably never would have given me the bird.
Sunday, December 11, 2016
I have found some music videos on YouTube that are keeping me in a groove. They are called Playing for Change.
And one set in this selection I find particularly fascinating: Playing for Change Around the World. Whoever is doing the mixing on these is wonderfully talented. A cut of a song is made, and then that cut is carried around the world and musicians from many backgrounds are then spliced to create a something really special
I have a great sound system on my computer and this is how I have spent most of my afternoon.
We have two older laptops that we have recently replaced. The computers are still good, but I hesitate to give them away because of personal information that may be accessible.
When I run across something I think is worthwhile, I like to share it.
My wife has diabetes, so far treatable with medication. Early on, after diagnosis, we ordered Diabetic Living magazine and was disappointed with the content. There were recipes in the magazine, but they were high in fat, salt and calories.
We ran across the magazine Diabetes Self-Management in a doctors waiting room and was impressed with it. Each issue has a supplement called Diabetic Cooking enclosed.
We ordered the magazine about a year ago. The articles are typical diabetes subjects; but each magazine has that special cooking section with recipes. We have made many of dishes and they are both healthy, delicious and without a lot of special ingredients.
These are some of the dishes:
Chicken and Pasta with Creamy Caper-Herb Sauce
Country Bean Soup
Skillet Fish with Lemon Tarragon Butter
Bolognese Sauce & Penne Pasta
Lemon-Asparagus Chicken with Dill
White Bean and Chicken Ragout
And tonight we are having: Sautéed Halibut with Lemon Rice.
I do most of the cooking, and I love the recipes in this magazine.
I am attaching the link to the website below:
And a little wine doesn't hurt
Saturday, December 10, 2016
Friday, December 9, 2016
I posted this perhaps a year ago; but due to the stressful times we now face I thought I would share it again.
NO BULLSHIT BUDDHISM
Coming out of sleep I lie in bed
The fan blowing a gentle breeze across my body
I kick off the covers and stretch
I clear my mind from monkey dreams
And listen to the quietness of the house
I have been a Buddhist practitioner since the late 1970’s when I first read The Three Pillars of ZEN by Roshi Philip Kapleau.
Since that that time I have read and studied numerous books by numerous authors on Buddhism, and particularly Zen. I have also attended a Zen Sanghi and practiced with a Buddhist community; but I find this type of practice unrewarding and particularly contrary to my needs and my feelings of what Buddhism is about.
To me, formal Buddhist training is elitist and probably drives away many westerners who might otherwise benefit and desire to live the Buddhist experience without the commitment to a ritualistic practice of religious nature.
My Buddhist practice in No Bullshit Buddhism. To me, Buddhism, and particularly Zen, should be practiced at its most basic level. The practice need not be about teachers, or koans; not about robes, bells, icons or timed meditation.
After hours of meditation the Buddha found enlightenment (or realization) when he saw a beautiful young girl, was refreshed by cool water and tasted a bowl of rice. It is that simple. The Buddha realized that contentment can come from stopping our search and simply focusing on beautiful and satisfying things around us at the present moment.
I feel that the Buddha achieved enlightenment without teachers and community or adopting someone else’s ideas and values. The Buddha is important only for sharing his realization that to truly live we must be conscious of the moment. We each have a Buddha nature and by starting from the Buddha’s enlightenment we each have the ability to seek our own way. And there is no One Way.
In my No Bullshit Buddhism the role of meditation is not to stress myself in a painful meditation marathon. I do not believe that the Buddha was awaken because he spent hours in painful meditation; he was awakened because he became suddenly aware of the beauty of the moment. However, meditation is a necessary practice to discipline our mind to more fully appreciate the NOW.
Many Zen writers and teachers say that you should not seek an outcome in the practice of zazen (meditation.) This flies in the face of western thinking and calls for that leap of faith that I refuse to make.
In my No Bullshit Zen I find a quiet, comfortable and familiar location. I seat myself on a zafu; but a pillow, bench or chair would do – comfort being the object. I place my right hand in my left, touching my thumbs, bringing both the right and left sides of my brain into equilibrium. Some texts recommend counting your breaths, but I prefer to gradually slow my breathing while visualizing the air entering my nose and filling my lungs then exiting. The object is to empty my mind of all thoughts. If my mind wanders I bring it back to empty. I sit until it becomes uncomfortable; then come back to the present calmly and gradually. As I have practice over time the length of my meditation has naturally increase.
Meditation can lower your blood pressure; it can calm you in stressful situations; and eventually it will allow you to conquer your monkey mind and enable you to more completely focus on the NOW without distracting thoughts. These are the goals of my zazen practice.
In the Shambhala Sun article Essential Teachings of Thich Nhat Han - Beyond Words, he states, “Zen doesn’t travel along a path of learning through writing and words; it relies on direct transmission between teacher and student.”
This may be cutting off the head of the Buddha, but I could not object more. I read and enjoy many Buddhist books and periodicals and therefore have am insight from numerous different perspectives; but I take nothing on faith and follow no one else’s path. A teaching or account must make sense to me before I adopt it.
At the most basic, The Four Noble Truths attempts to explain the cause of our discontent and the Eightfold Path offers a guide to live by.
There are as many paths to living with Buddhist values as there are peopled. I prefer No Bullshit Buddhism because:
I do not feel the Buddha intended his teachings to come at a price.
I do not feel the Buddha intended the path of the Buddhist way to be difficult.
I do not feel the Buddha intended teachers and Sanghis to set themselves as the only path enlightenment.
I do not feel the Buddha intended enlightenment to be sought; but for contentment to be lived.
I have never felt more alive that the moment I released my grip on the wing strut and stepped off the wheel of a small airplane becoming unattached to the earth; or in the stern of a canoe rocketing down a mile of rapids on the Allagash River in Maine; or during the erotic throws of a sexual encounter with a partner responding with abandonment. These moments far outweigh the experience of the almost zombie state of walking meditation.
In our mundane times we should not fail to stop and smell the roses and contemplate the beauty of the time and place; but life experience and reward goes far beyond that.
It is my belief, with the exception of monastic training, that the Buddha intended his teachings be simple, to help everyday people in everyday life to understand that hardship, reward, elation, monotony and finally death is a natural part of our existence; and that by living consciously in every moment we live this short life more fully.
I am well into my seventies, and at this point in my life impermanence is real. All people in their younger days understand that someday they will die, that time will erode the mountains and that at some point in the future the sun will turn into a red dwarf and the oceans will evaporate; and even perhaps in the far distant future the expansion of the universe will slow, stop and finally reverse shrinking into a massive black hole where time and space do not exist; but the realization of impermanence does not actually register until we are faced with the experience in our immediate future.
Introspection helps me accept that death is the final obligation I owe to nature; but in the meantime life is to be lived fully by being unrestrained by concepts and being conscious in the NOW.
For what it is worth this is my No Bullshit Buddhism.
Thursday, December 8, 2016
My wife’s mother is in critical condition in a Boston hospital. She is ninety years old and has been in the hospital a number of times over the last year, and has been in constant pain and discomfort. She has a serious infection and without treatment can only last two or three days. She has told the doctors and her family she wishes to die.
The only option in Massachusetts it to ‘keep her comfortable’ and let the infection eventually shut down her systems.
Our first cat I loved very much. He was in terrible pain and I took him to the vet to be euthanized. I held him as the vet injected the serum and the cat relaxed and died instantly in my arms.
Why can’t a human have the same humane option?
A number of years ago my aunt, in her nineties, suffered a massive stroke. She was in a vegetative state. Her daughter had to make the decision to pull the feeding tubes and allow her to die.
A person can last a couple of months without food, but a healthy person only five or six days without water. But, dehydration is a terrible way to die; and what a terrible thing for the daughter to have to stand the ‘death watch’ while her mother’s body shut down.
Now my wife’s brother and sisters are standing the ‘death watch.’ What a cruel thing for the mother and the family.
This prohibition against euthanasia is Christian religious bullshit based – a form of Christian sharia law that has been imposed on the public and affects us without our consent.
Monday, December 5, 2016
I am x-military, Vietnam vet. I earned expert rifle and expert pistol ribbons and was on the Quonset Point Navy pistol team for two years.
I don’t hunt any more, I don’t need the meat and the Idea of killing an animal for sport no longer appeals to me.
I recently sold my 44 mag. that I had used for bear protection in Alaska when we had students in the woods. I do feel better with a firearm in the house for protection; and so when my wife asked me what I wanted for Solstice I told her a Heritage single action 22 cal. pistol.
It is now my habit to research anything I intend to purchase on YouTube. There were numerous sights with some good reviews of the weapon; but I also ran into some of the crazy survivalist sights. These people live in a make believe world.
One man said he stores his 22 cal. pistol and a 22 cal. semi auto rifle in his car trunk along with a backpack of survival items so if he is ever on a trip and the situation arises (zombies???) he can leave his car and ‘bug out.’
Another man was saying that a 22 cal. is not lethal enough for ‘neighborhood defense’ and that if he and his neighbors ever have ‘to make a stand’ he prefers a larger, semi-automatic pistol and assault weapon. He failed to mention who he intends to repel - perhaps the 101st Airborne, Delta force, or the maybe the 1st Marine division… or aliens... zombies?
There is a difference between gun owners and gun nuts. These survivalists I place in the same ‘living in a fantasy’ category as people who believe in Noah’s Ark and immaculate conception.
Ignorance is a choice today, and there are a hell of a lot of ignorant people occupying this country – it is just the way it is, and you can’t fix stupid.
Just my observation