Friday, January 31, 2014


Stephen King could write on the shithouse wall and I would read it.   You might say that I am one of his constant readers.   This, however, doesn't mean that I view everything he writes as equal; or that I enjoy every book the same.  

To be somewhat critical, I believe his best books were written during the seventies and eighties.   The rest are good reads, for the most part, but the real thrillers – the one’s that reach out of the dark corner of the room and grab you when you least expect it  - the classics - are his earliest books.  

I dare you to read Salem’s Lot late, on a dark, windy night alone and not get the shivers.   Pet Cemetery will scare the B’Jesus out of you.    Then there is Carrie, The Stand, The Shining and we can’t forget It.   

That said; his new book Doctor Sleep is vintage King.   In order to make connections you must have read The Shining (or at least seen to movie.)   But this ‘can’t put it down’ page turner will grab you from the very first chapter.

On a side note about movies made from King’s books: most sucked a root.   Salem’s lot was a sleeper – not up to the actual drama of the book…One exception being Carrie:   this was a production where the entire theater audibly gasped at the end of the movie, and patrons left talking to each other and mumbling to themselves about the shock factor. 

People seem to either love King or don’t like him…It is probably more their take on the genre.

But if you are a King fan: check out Doctor Sleep.  

the Ol’Buzzard

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


This morning I turned on my computer, selected Microsoft Word and started typing.   About five minutes into my writing my hard drive started to whine and a warning appeared stating: High CPU usage by Google Chrome. My hard drive ran for about three minutes. 

My question is, what is Google Chrome uploading or downloading or looking at inside my computer while I am working off line?

This has happened before.

I have asked this question before.

Is Google Chrome becoming Big Brother?

"In the past no government had the power to keep its citizens under constant surveillance."
1984 - George Orwell


There was some interest in an earlier post on the book Buddhism Plain and Simple.   This book is the most relevant to me of the many Buddhism books I have read.  Because of the interest shown I will submit perhaps two or three more post explaining my take on ‘Buddhism as it was meant to be.’ 

I call it Naked Buddhism – that is Buddhism without the robes and whistles and gongs and all the trappings you see in formal Buddhist settings.  

Here is how I see it:

About two thousand-five hundred years ago the man we call Buddha was a privileged young man.  He was of a wealthy family and educated for his time.    As he became an adult he realized that all he was privileged to was impermanent, and that his life would inevitably end in sickness, disability and death.  Depressed and despondent, he found his life meaningless.   In search for peace of mind – for something to believe in - he left home.  Over the next six years he joined many different religious groups finally adopting the precepts of ascetics – a group that believed in self-denial as a religious discipline.   Eventually, self starvation and exposure brought him to the verge of death.   Weakened and emaciated he sat under a tree near a well and determined to meditate unto death. 

As he sat, exhausted, a beautiful young girl came to the well for water.   Seeing a young man dying under the tree the girl took pity and brought him water.   The girl was beautiful and compassionate; the water taste wonderful; the country side appeared glorious – and suddenly the young man became a Buddha – he was awakened – he realized that life and contentment can exist in the moment.   The now – this moment is all we have – and is wondrous if we choose to see it.

That’s it.   That’s all there is.

Whether this story is true or false it carries an indisputable truth.  People who have survived near death situations suddenly step back and realize that all the bullshit we load ourselves with on a daily basis is actually unimportant: they tend to see colors more vibrant, nature more wonderful, and people they care for more important.   Unfortunately, because of the stress of our society, this feeling doesn't survive. 

Naked Buddhism helps us try to attain that fundamental view that life at this moment is a gift - if we are able to step away from our concerns, and see it.

In my next Naked Buddhism post I will cover the steps (as I see them) the Buddha suggested that can help us bring our life back into balance. 

the Ol’Buzzard

Tuesday, January 28, 2014



I am not an advertiser; and I am skeptical of most advertisements.  I always feel that the best information about products come from other people who have used or experienced them. 

Whenever I run across a product that is exceptionally good I will share it on this blog.   It would be a great service if others did the same. 

Last year I traded my eleven year old pick-up in for a new (2012) Toyota RAV-4.   We can only afford the upkeep on one vehicle and the truck was at the point of costing a bundle and plummeting in trade-in value.   This little RAV-4 is the best vehicle I have ever driven in the snow and ice: all wheels drive independently and adjust to the traction of the other three resulting in great control on bad icy roads.   I only get 25 mpg but that is the trade off for all wheel drive – after 10 mpg in my GMC this is great mileage.   The ground clearance is good and the interior is comfortable (though a little compact) for a man of my size: six foot and two hundred pounds.  I would recommend it.

After a winter and a half of slopping snow and rain and mud onto the floor of the new car and constantly ending up with damp carpet I recently bought the Weather Tech floor liners through Cabela's.  It is a fantastically practical product and is as good as its advertisement.   My only regret is that I didn't buy it last year.  These floor mats fit perfectly and contain all the snow and slop I tend to track into any vehicle.   I would recommend them.

Finally, I could not live without my George Foreman Grill (well maybe that is an exaggeration.)  The grill perfectly cooks any meat within five to seven minutes. It cooks from the top and bottom at the same time searing in the flavors and resulting in evenly cooked meat.  To boot, you can buy chuck steak which is full of marbling (fat) that imparts the really good flavor, and during the cooking process all the fat drains away leaving just flavor.   (I find lean angus meat tough and tasteless like nonfat everything else.)    We also grill vegetables in the George Foreman in about three minutes.  It is easy clean-up provided you buy the one with removable plates.  I would recommend it.

Have some road kill – you’ll like it.

the Ol’Buzzard 

Saturday, January 25, 2014


 QUESTION: What is the sound of one hand clapping?
ANSWER:  I farted in an elevator full of people and no one heard. 

This was posted by Debra SheWho Seeks.    I have purloined it and offer it to you: first with her answers and next with mine. 

1. If there is one candy left in the box, do you have to eat it or can you leave it sitting there all alone for the next few weeks?

I would not only eat the candy immediately, I would eat the box as well.

2. What do you want to remember most of all, if you survive to be very old?

Not to go out in public without any clothes on.

3. Would you enjoy being a very rich and famous celebrity?

Do you mean this blog hasn't made me one already? WTF!

4. What piece of music do you personally find most emotionally moving?

"Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" from Monty Python's Life of Brian.

5. How do you deal with anxiety, depression and bad times?

Funny movies and TV shows. Also LOLcats.

6. What do you love doing that bores everyone else stiff?

So long as it's not this blog, I'm fine.

7. Did you ever encounter an inanimate object that seemed to have a will of its own?

You mean apart from my ex, Big Bad Butch?

8. What is your very favourite hotel or restaurant?

One where someone else picks up the tab.

9. What do you wish you had known when you were 18?

If I'd known then what I know now, I'd never have done or achieved anything in my life because I'd have been defeated before I started, simply by knowing how difficult it would be. Everything I am today I owe to the fact that ignorance is bliss.


1. If there is one candy left in the box, do you have to eat it or can you leave it sitting there all alone for the next few weeks?

It would be a crime to let candy go stale: I would eat it.  

2. What do you want to remember most of all, if you survive to be very old?

Old people do not have a future so they have to live in their memories.   I would hope all my memories would remain sharp.  If it were true that your life passes in front of your face when you die – mine would have to be a double feature.

3. Would you enjoy being a very rich and famous celebrity?

Famous – NO.   Rich – You bet your sweet ass.

4. What piece of music do you personally find most emotionally moving?

Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band: In the Wind.

5. How do you deal with anxiety, depression and bad times?

Meditation helps – also whiskey.

6. What do you love doing that bores everyone else stiff?

Watching old Sci-Fi movies...the fifties were the best.

7. Did you ever encounter an inanimate object that seemed to have a will of its own?

Yes: a Ford F-350 truck…I couldn’t keep the damn thing fixed.  Take care of one problem and another cropped up.

8. What is your very favourite hotel or restaurant?

Favorite hotel is The Empress Hotel in Victoria B.C. – Canada.   Favorite Restaurant is The Stanley House in Kingfield, Maine – open only six months a year in the house of the man who invented the Stanley Steamer Automobile – Next door is a great bed and breakfast.

9. What do you wish you had known when you were 18?

That girls wanted to have sex as much as I did.
the Ol’Buzzard

Friday, January 24, 2014


My wife and I bowl with a senior league once a week.   After seven years I still still stink at.   Sometimes my games are so embarrassing that if I were a cat I would probably turn in circles, drop down on the lane and lick my balls. 

the Ol'Buzzard


The first of a thousand kisses

Wednesday we had to put down our baby.  She was eighteen years old and she had wasted away until she could not stand.   She wasn't a pet - we have no close family or friends; for years it has been just the three of us.   She was family.

She was so much a part of our routine that it will take a while to adjust.  If I got up in the morning before my wife, she didn't like it –a Ragdoll breed she was very vocal.   My wife would have to get up first and the two of them would go down stairs.   She would sit by the door as my wife used the bathroom.  The two of them would then go into the kitchen and she would wait patiently while my wife prepared her morning meal.   

It seemed that all of our daily routines included Dixie.   Our couch is a two-seater: that means one cushion for my wife and one for the cat.   She would be very aggravated if I took her place beside my wife.   I was expected to stay in my easy-chair.

Nap time for sisters: my girls

She and my wife interacted all day and she followed her everywhere.   She liked attention from me and would flee to me when she was scared.   But she was my wife’s baby-girl.

I held her in my arms (that’s where she wanted to be) as she was injected and she went limp.   Those beautiful blue eyes went black as the pupils dilated: at restful peace.   Afterwards my wife and I spent the day out – away from the house.  We had dinner at a local restaurant and returned home about seven. 

How strange it was to walk into the house and not be met by her at the door.   It felt like we were in some negative parallel universe or the cold reflection of our house inside a mirror.

We will move on; but she will, as she has been for so many years, be an integral part of us.  

Thursday, January 23, 2014




Often Zen priest, trying to impress their followers with their own intellect, will answer a novice’s question of ’What should I try to get from meditation;’ with the answer: ‘Meditation.’

Do Zen priest have egos?    Are Zen priest human (that’s the Zen trick of answering a question with a question)?

Actually, they are wrong again.    There is a great deal to be gained from meditation.

Physically, you can drop your blood pressure in a very short time when you master the ability to place yourself in a meditative state.    In a doctor’s office (or at home) I can bring my blood pressure down at least ten points with sixty seconds of meditation technique. 

Mentally, you can force your mind into some down time giving you a chance to let go of emotionally charged concerns – somewhat like a reboot on a computer.  

Remembering that the goal of Zen is to let you view reality in order to live productively in the moment: Meditation practice along with Zen precepts can help free you of ego, preconceptions, prejudice and all the baggage you carry that dictates how you respond to the world.

There is no one way to meditate.   This is how I do it. 

1.    Find a quite place if possible
2.    I like to sit on a pillow on the floor with my legs crossed – but you can be just as effective sitting in a chair.
3.    I place my right hand into my left hand touching my thumbs – because it feels right to me. 
4.    I close my eyes – some people like to focus on an object.   The goal is to reduce as many distractions as possible.   Sometimes I play new age music like Windham Hill in the background to cover up outside noises.
5.    Many meditations instructors tell you to count your breaths – this doesn't work for me…I find it a distraction.   I inhale and visualize the air as it goes through my nose down my trachea and inflates my lungs.   Then I visualize the air as it exits my lungs and goes out through my nose (if you have sinus problems mouth breathing is fine.)  Very quickly you will be aware of your breathing slowing.
6.    After perhaps the first minute I visualize my legs relaxing; my hands; my arms; my shoulders – then I go back to visualizing my breath.   
7.    That’s it: now I am in a relaxed state controlling my breath.
8.    When I am finished I open my eyes and sit still and quiet for short time before moving – I want to carry with me that relaxed state.

No big secrets – no metaphysical mystery.  You might want to start at three minutes and build up – I rarely go beyond five.   I don’t use a timer but you might find it useful in the beginning. 

But, Beware the Monkeys:

We all have a monkey mind.  The monkeys can’t stand quiet relaxed environment and they try to drag distractions through to break into your thoughts.   This is normal and occurs often, especially when you are a beginner.   When this happens you simply acknowledge that you have been distracted, and go back to visualizing your breathing.

 If you attend a Zen Buddhist sangha (meditation group) you will probably find they tend to make meditation an endurance sport.  To me, sitting until I have no feeling in my legs and my back aches and I am physically and mentally uncomfortable has no purpose – then again the priest will tell you that there is no purpose to meditation. 

Then why do it?

Meditation has benefits; as does living a Buddhist life style.  I value Zen Buddhism; but the Buddha reminded us to accept nothing on faith. 

It took the Buddha years to become enlightened - but alas he discovered: ‘you put your right foot out; you put your right foot in; you put your right foot out and you shake it all about; you do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around: that what it’s all about.’

the Ol’Buzzard

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


Today we had to put down our cat Dixie Darlin’Jill that has been our constant companion for the last eighteen years.  We carry the loss and good memories of the life we shared.

To be truthful, I must say that I am an inconsistent Buddhist.   I am also inconsistent about trying to learn to play the guitar I received for Solstice two years ago.  I am an inconsistent gardener and carpenter and in general I don’t stick to any one thing consistently: beginning – stopping – continuing – forgetting – continuing…..

I recently posted about aging and being constantly accompanied by the Grim Reaper.  His presence isn’t something that particularly concerns me; it is just a fact - and I am ok with it. 

I am more fortunate than many, my wife and I are comparatively healthy, I am retired and we are able to keep the wolf away from the door – though just barely.   Therefore it is presumptuous of me to give advice to those carrying more burdens.   I can only state my own philosophy along with my inconsistent attempt to remain a cognitive, sentient being.

It is imperfect logic to believe that we are here, populating this earth, living our lives by any other design than chance.   If we were capable of going back into time and starting this world over with the original beginnings of cellular life there is no reason to believe that the outcome would result the same. 

Chaos Theory states that a small, unexpected change in an initial condition can result in a major change in an outcome; therefore we can not make accurate predictions on a long term basis – there are always too many small variables that can change the outcome.

Chaos infers that we do not have control.


1.    Had my mother given a blow job instead of having sex with whoever my father was: she would be a cannibal, and I would not be here.
2.    Had I been put up for adoption – I would not be the person I am today.
3.    Had my grandmother not adopted me ……
4.    Had I not been raised in the south ...
5.    Had I known different friends and influences as a child …
6.    Had I not made the thousands of choices as an adult that resulted in my being here in Maine married to the woman that is my wife ….

At a thousand points along my life time, had I made a different change or choice I would be a different person today. 

Last week a pregnant forty year old woman was killed in a head-on collision about five miles from my house.   We had had a snow storm and she was coming from a small village just to the north.   A twenty year old was driving in the opposite direction; he took a curve too wide and dropped his wheels into snow on the road margin; he over corrected and swerved into the oncoming land smashing into the woman’s car.   She was killed - he was injured.
1.    Had she driven one mile an hour slower or faster she would be alive today.
2.    Had she lived her husband’s and children’s lives would have a different future.

Our future is often determined by making moment to moment choices from the chaotic circumstances within which we live.

Almost all of our pressures in life exist from circumstances out of our control – with reality.    Though we are creatures of chance, we have this need to be in constant control, and when can’t we are miserable.  The ability to accept reality is the ability to deal with things as they are.

Reality is direct seeing the world as it is.  It is not found in thoughts, phrases or explanations.  Reality can not be transmitted from a religious teacher. 

I have found help through Buddhist teachings and meditation.  Meditation can free your mind of confusion and aid you in seeing and accepting reality. 

Many Buddhist teachings verge on being a religion.   Most declare the necessity of receiving understanding through a teacher.  I disagree (and so did the Buddha.) 

To me, achieving mindfulness and acceptance of reality is a personal journey; and if belonging to a group and receiving instruction from a teacher is your thing – then it is probably right for you.   But, there are many writings on Buddhist perspectives, and those inclined might find a better fit from their own research. 

I recommend Buddhism Plain and Simple, by Steve Hagen.  It is Buddhism without religion – a recipe for living a conscious existence. 

An abstract from Amazon:

Buddhism Plain and Simple

It is a classic, because it teaches the essence of Buddhism - by ignoring all the miracles and Buddhist beliefs in the Buddhism that is practiced in Asia.  

143 five star ratings, this book is one of Amazon's Buddhist best sellers.

The Buddha-dharma does not invite us to dabble in abstract notions. Rather, the task it presents us with is to attend to what we actually experience, right in this moment. You don't have to look "over there." You don't have to figure anything out. You don't have to acquire anything. And you don't have to run off to Tibet, or Japan, or anywhere else. You wake up right here. In fact, you can only wake up right here.

So you don't have to do the long search, the frantic chase, the painful quest. You're already right where you need to be.

On my next post I will outline the simple steps in meditation that I use…inconsistently.

The Ol’Buzzard

Sunday, January 19, 2014


They don't make movies like this any more - it seems it would fit these times. 

the Ol'Buzzard


This time of year it is hard to get to the gym with sub-freezing temperatures, snow storms, ice storms and the general laziness that winter brings on. 

My wife has wanted an exercise bike, but shopping locally I found them more expensive that we could justify.    However, on E-Bay I found a new EXERPUTIC 900XL extended capacity recumbent bike with and electronic readout for $165.00 and free shipping. 

I was a little leery about ordering something unseen, but placed the order using PayPal, which gives a guarantee.  

The bike came in within a week by UPS.  It took about two hours to assemble (the assembly is not difficult if you can read and follow fairly explicit instructions – all tools are included.) 

We have had this bike now for one month and my wife loves it.   It is well constructed and performs as advertised.  

If anyone is interested in a reasonably priced exercise bike you might want to take a look at this one. 

the Ol’Buzzard  

Saturday, January 18, 2014



MOHAVE RAT just published a post about the foolishness of war.  

I have an Idea that could end all wars and save warring countries the expense of maintaining an army and fighting.

When countries cannot reach a civilized agreement on issues and feel that bloodshed is the only answer - I prescribe the following:

1.    Take the top twenty politicians from each country
2.    Strip them buck naked
3.    Issue each two single edge razor blades
4.    Lock them in a large room
5.    Turn off the lights
6.    Either an agreement is reached or the last man standing wins.

I believe this would bring about a lasting peace and we could spend all our money on social programs for the people instead of a run away military complex. 



the Ol'Buzzard


 when I asked The Reaper what it was all about
he did the Hokey Pokey and he turned himself around
and grinned

Yorick, I knew him well.

Young people do not deal with the specter of death on a daily basis.  Their lives are filled with the day to day trivia that is the minutiae of existence.   Relationships and bills, and financial and personal security fill their moments of consciousness as they move through each day.   

I, on the other hand, find The Grim Reaper my personal companion.   He stands by my bed at night; sits in the room while I read; and keeps me company while I split and haul wood for the wood stove.  

Young people dreams of adventures they plans to have and the goals they would like to achieve. 

Since I have much more past than future, I dream of the adventures I have had and goals I have accomplished – my plans for the future are bland; and this is the main rub of growing old.  (As I have said before: I don’t buy Craftsman tools because they have a lifetime guarantee – and at this juncture of my life Harbor Freight tools will outlast me.

Don’t get me wrong, I am enjoying the laidback life I had hoped for all the years I pulled in harness.  I enjoy my wife’s company (and sex); reading books; eating home cooked food; drinking good wine; and the lack of stress not having to work a job.   But is can be oh’ so boring.  

Keeping busy is now the job; and many would envy my position.

But, The Reaper just tapped on my shoulder and told me to hurry up with this post – He has plans for me down the line and doesn’t want me to be late. 

the Ol’Buzzard

Thursday, January 16, 2014


Neal deGrasse Tyson is the most popular astrophysicists of today.   He has taken the mantle once held by Carl Sagan.   His ability to simplify and explain our relationship with science and the cosmos has made him a popular guest on many TV network shows. 

Dr Tyson will soon be hosting a new sixteen part science documentary beginning in late March or early April on Fox and the History Channel.  

Dr Tyson has given a number of interesting lectures ranging from black holes to UFOs to religion verses science.   Many of these are available on YOUTUBE and worth the time viewing. 

Check it out
the Ol’Buzzard


Monday, January 13, 2014


Most everyone knows the fable of the frog and the scorpion. 

A scorpion wishing to cross a river approaches a frog on the bank.

‘Please help me Mr. Frog – I must get across the river – let me ride on your back.’

The frog replies, ‘If I let you on my back you will sting and kill me.”

‘Never,’ the scorpion says ‘for I can not swim and if I were to sting you I also would die.’

‘What would stop you from killing me once we reach the other side?’

The scorpion says, ‘I could kill you now; but if you help me I will be forever indebted to you.’

The frog agrees to carry the scorpion, but half way across the river the scorpion stings the frog.

‘Why have you done this?’ the frog asks.  ‘Now we shall both die.’

‘I cannot help myself,’ the scorpion replies.  ‘It is my nature.”

We live on a small blue planet: one of a billion-billion planets circling a billion-billion stars in one of a billion-billion galaxies.   We are the product of chance – the results of chaos.   Our species has been on this earth a relatively short time.   We evolved as a basic animal, and our animal instincts allowed us to procure the food, shelter and sex we needed for the survival of our species.  The ability and willingness of the male to kill, rape, murder and seek vengeance determined his pecking order and his success in the primitive pack.  

These same instincts are ingrained in our DNA even today, but are antithetic to modern society and the rule of law and the ethos of civilization.   These same ingrained male primitive instincts are the reason for our wars, our violence, our inability to live peacefully and the callous divides between the have and the have not’s. 

To see the real unvarnished human nature you only have to watch middle-school children on a play ground.   

The real violence and mayhem we are capable of as adults rears it head during war time – in a combat zone. 

I personally am aware of the violence and atrocities I am capable of committing. 

I make no apologies (though I have regrets) for this is my nature.  

the Ol’Buzzard

Saturday, January 11, 2014


The Wind in the Willows: Contrite Toad

Christie's apology


just asking
the Ol'Buzzard

Friday, January 10, 2014


It is pretty obvious to anyone reading my blog that, like Karl Marx, I consider religions as the Opium of the Masses.

Religion and intellect have knocked heads since the true founding of the Catholic Church at the Council of Nicea held around 350 AD.   From the earliest time through the Dark Ages The Church did everything in its power to discredit and destroy all forms of enlightenment from science to philosophy to mathematics.  

The massive body of knowledge that germinated in early Greece was considered heresy, and those intrepid enough to pursue enlightenment were put to death by The Church

Throughout the Dark Ages all accepted truths had to be based on the Bible as the only true knowledge.   And even today, great numbers of our population choose ignorance over knowledge, and insist on a literal interpretation of the Bible.

The Bible, a loose woven myth disguised as history, begins its story with Adam and Eve. 

Last night, as I lay awake in bed, as I often do, I considered the claim that through DNA we can trace the human race back to one woman somewhere is Africa – and African Eve.

 I don’t dispute that, but the more I considered this claim the more it seemed likely to me that there has to be more than one Eve.  

Now, I know that no one wants to read pages correlating math and history; and even though I spent the morning researching and correlating I won’t bore you with the minutiae. 

But, to give an overview I must start out with an explanation of exponential counting: you have two parents; four grandparents; eight great grandparents; sixteen great-great grandparents – the numbers double from each preceding generation.  


If you go back 20 generations (rounding off some numbers for ease of counting) you are directly kin to one million great-great… grandparents.   If you go back thirty generations you would be equally kin to one billion ancestors.

Now the trick is to track the population of the earth and determine the date when you are kin to everyone on earth. 

Using 20 years as the approximate length of a generation I determined that after 29 generations (the first generation is a zero) or 560 years - around the year 1460 -  our ancestors numbered 500 million: the same as the entire population of the earth in at that time.

If we pick any female in 1460 we have to consider her as an EVE for our generation.

Now, selecting that female from 1460 and counting her ancestors back into time we find that around the year 840 she is kin to 250 million ancestors: about the same number as the population of the earth in that year.   Therefore any female from the year of 840 can be considered and the second Eve.   

The population stabilizes to 200 million around the year zero; and the third Eve appears about 220 BC.      After this, approximately every 500 years we have a new Eve. 

Human population slowly decreases, until around 8,000 BC when we have an earth population of 5 million, dropping to 3 million about 10,000 BC.

If we continue backwards, somewhere between three and four million years ago the original Eve of our species walked across the savannas of Africa.  This is our African Eve.  

It is quite possible, if not probable, that someone will shoot holes all through this hypothesis; but that is the way science works.   

My wife gave me five books for Solstice and I probably could have better spent this time reading.

the Ol’Buzzard

A world clock worth checking out - there are many more.