Saturday, November 21, 2009



Today was the first day of my nine-day Thanksgiving vacation. I'll be travelling in a few days. but today I celebrated by spending the afternoon at a chan temple (chan is the Chinese form of Zen, the ancestor tradition to the younger Japanese lineage). The temple was new to me, but it had apparently opened on the other side of the city about a year ago, and a friend had invited me to attend an introductory session there with him. It was a beautiful and ornate temple, at least by the austere standards of Zen. I always find it interesting to see Buddhism practiced in different ways, and today was no exception.


In other news, Jessica Watson has crossed the Equator, a major milestone in her solo global circumnavigation. She reports, "No change that I can see. The water is still blue, the waves are still rolling and the wind still blowing." Crossing the Equator at least once is apparently a requirement for a voyage to be considered truly "around the world." As for the effects of isolation and silence, the other day she reported, "Not a real exciting day out here today. . . I actually slept through most of it. I'm becoming more and nocturnal lately because it's so much easier to get anything done when it cools down after the sunsets. It was good to get a few extra catnaps in while I've still got plenty of open water and nice conditions."


According to my scrapbook, twenty years ago today, the Czech government was busy denying the killing of Martin Smid, a denial that turned out to actually be true, but the regime didn't have much credibility. 200,000 Czechs marched in Wenceslas Square, some carrying banners that read "Red Murderers to Court." In East Germany, 200,000 protesters marched in Leipzig, 100,000 in Dresden, 50,000 each in Halle and Karl-Marx-Stadt (think that city's name lasted much longer?), and 10,000 in Schwerin. But meanwhile in Romania, 71-year-old Nicolae Ceausescu gave a five-hour speech declaring that his country would not be following the other Eastern European nations along the paths toward democracy and freedom. He was to be overthrown, tried, and executed by Christmas Day.

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