Sunday, January 31, 2016

Would anyone who is not living in the now please stand up? - Bernie Glassman

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Friday, January 29, 2016

The forest doesn't ask who owns the land or what species are its trees.  It does not know these distinctions - it's too busy sequestering our carbon and breathing oxygen into the biosphere.  It gives and it takes back life, and it graces our existence by allowing us entrance.  

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

I hadn't intended on becoming an old man, but the prospect of not becoming one was even less preferable.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Walt Disney once advised, "Get a good idea and stay with it, and work it until it's done and done right."  He didn't say how to get a good idea to start with though.

Monday, January 25, 2016

The pathway to potential is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When you neither love nor hate, it appears clearly, without disguise.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Survival v Impermanance

The dusting of snow we got Friday night and Saturday morning melted away by Sunday.  A few branches fell off the trees around my house, but it looks like we escaped any serious damage here. Still, unless some real estate investor or property flipper doesn't demolish this house first, on a long enough time scale, sooner or later the roof will rot and the trees will fall and the hillside I'm built on will will erode away and wash down Spring Valley Creek.  

Not that I'll necessarily will be around to see it.  

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Snow In Dixie

Winter Storm Jonas, which has been burying cities from D.C. to Boston in up to 30 inches of snow, has passed through Atlanta.  The ground in my backyard was too warm for the snow to stick, but there was a thin layer on trees and branches, on the ivy and other ground plants, and on outdoor furniture.  

Icy patches of road were reported around town but the National Weather Service has warned that as the snow flurries move out, strong winds will present the biggest threat.  Wind gusts up to 40 miles per hour are expected throughout the day and bring with them the possibility of downed trees and power lines. Over in adjacent Dekalb County, a postal worker was killed after a tree fell onto his vehicle at a golf course.

I'm holed up for the weekend in my little house, watching the trees and feeling grateful that I got my roof repairs from the Christmas Eve downpour repaired, and appreciating the white-on-green beauty of the fresh-fallen snow.

Friday, January 22, 2016


As winter barrels down on us, are "home," "shelter," or even "South Florida" really safe havens?  As long as we identify ourselves as separate from the storm, there will be no refuge.

Refuge is not found in hiding from, but from enjoining with.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

This post has already changed.  It's not the way you remember it.

Monday, January 18, 2016

And in the end, when the decision can't be put off any longer and you have to choose one or the other, it turns out that all of the analysis and pros-and-cons and deliberations don't matter, and you pick what you had really wanted all along.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Every choice we make comes with a price, and the price is almost always just a bit more than we want to pay for it.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Can You Spot the Decision Tree?

Sometimes the hardest part of making a decision is understanding if there's actually a decision to be made.  A choice may not really be a choice, a presumed offer may not be an actual offer.  Sometimes, there really are important decisions to be made but other times it's only our willful egos that think it's up to us to decide. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The hardest part about making decisions is the uncertainty as to whether or not you chose correctly. Perhaps we should instead just roll the dice and live with the consequences.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Is this what happens when you refuse to sell to developers?

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Historical Karma

It was before my time, but I understand that Chinese immigration to California boomed during the Gold Rush of 1852.  Like many of the Mexican immigrants coming to the United States today, many of the Chinese immigrants were young men looking for short-term employment who, after completing their work and making some money here, then returned back home to China.  They didn't assimilate, they worked for low wages and were accused of driving down the cost of labor, and were suspected of being opium addicts.   

In contrast with China, however, the isolationist policies of Imperial Japan thwarted Japanese emigration, and it was not until 1868 that the Japanese government lessened restrictions and Japanese immigration to the United States began.  American entrepreneurs were motivated by anti-Chinese sentiment to recruit Japanese laborers over the Chinese.  Unlike the Chinese immigrants, most of the Japanese who arrived wanted to permanently reside in the United States and came in family groups. They assimilated to American social norms and clothing styles, and many joined Methodist and Presbyterian churches.  They were well received, at least initially, and the U.S.-Japanese Treaty of 1894 guaranteed them the right to immigrate to the United States and to enjoy the same rights in the country as U.S. citizens. 

But as the Japanese population in California grew, they began to be viewed by Americans with the same suspicion and hostility as were the Chinese immigrants, and by 1905 anti-Japanese rhetoric filled the pages of the San Francisco Chronicle.  A group calling itself the Japanese and Korean Exclusion League was established in San Francisco and petitioned the school board multiple times for segregated schools, but their complaints were dismissed because it was fiscally infeasible to create new, segregated facilities.

However, the Great San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 and the subsequent fires destroyed much of the city, including the schoolhouses, and after the fire, the school board gave in to the Exclusion League and sent all Japanese-American students to the Chinese Primary School, renaming it "The Oriental Public School for Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans."

Japanese-American parents were angered at the idea that their children were forced to receive an education that was not up to par with that of white children. Many Japanese Americans argued with the school board that the segregation of schools went against the Treaty of 1894, which did not expressly address education but did indicate that Japanese in America would receive equal rights. 

Tokyo newspapers denounced the segregation as an "insult to their national pride and honor." The Japanese government was highly concerned at that time with their reputation overseas, as they wanted to protect their growing reputation as an emerging world power. 

Japan's successful transformation into a modern, military power was first demonstrated by its defeat of China, long the preeminent power in East Asia, during the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-5 over influence in the Korean peninsula.  Japan then defeated Russia, a major Western power, in the Russo-Japanese War of 1905-06 over rights in Manchuria and Korea.  Chinese reformers and revolutionaries soon based themselves in Japan and Western nations took note of Japan's new military might.

Meanwhile, back at home, U.S. government officials were aware that a civil-rights crisis was brewing in San Francisco that could negatively affect relations with the burgeoning Japanese power.  It was against this background of bigotry and anti-immigration sentiment that the United States entered into several agreements and post-war treaties with Japan, recognizing the Japanese claims over the Korean peninsula and parts of Manchuria in an effort to maintain diplomatic peace.

The resulting Japanese colonial rule of Korea was quite harsh.  For the first ten years, Japan ruled directly through the military and any Korean dissent was ruthlessly crushed.  The Korean language was suppressed and people were forced to assume Japanese names and speak Japanese in public. Still greater controversy involved the use of ‘comfort women.’  Some elderly Koreans today can still remember young girls of middle- and high-school age being taken away and told that they would be working in Japan and getting paid, but in reality were forced into sexual slavery and made to work in factories with no pay.  Of the companies still around today, Mitsubishi was one of the most infamous users of Korean and Chinese forced labor.  Those who spoke poor Japanese were more likely to be taken away.  

In Korea today, there is still great resentment toward Japan over this issue, and towards the United States for its diplomatic role in ceding the Korean Peninsula to the Japanese government. Theodore Roosevelt even won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in moderating the Treaty of Portsmouth that ended the Russo-Japanese war and recognized Japan's sovereignty over the Korean peninsula.  

But America's diplomatic hand was forced to a degree by a necessity to placate Japanese anger over the treatment of immigrants and the segregation by the San Francisco School District.  If it wasn't for the actions of racist, bigoted groups like the Japanese and Korean Exclusion League, Roosevelt might not have had to concede to so many of Japan's imperialistic demands, and the rape of Korea may not have occurred, or at least not for the duration and with the impunity for which it did.

Today, a paranoid madman is in control of North Korea.  The madman has nuclear weapons - not good ones to be sure, but nukes all the same.  He can successfully manipulate his long-suffering people with apocalyptic promises of revenge and annihilation of Japan and the United States due to the brutal treatment they received.  And that brutal treatment was a result, even if indirectly, of the anti-immigration frenzy stoked by the San Francisco Chronicle and racist hate groups.

Presidential candidates today can talk tough and say ugly things about Mexican and Islamic immigrants, and possibly even ride popular opinion and fear to the tops of the polls, but looking at the way that karma came back at us when we tried this in the past, you have to question how good of an idea that really is.   

My sources of information for this post include an eye-opening article titled My Korean Grandmother’s Memories of the Japanese Occupation and the Korean War by Christopher Smith at Asia Pundits; the U.S. Department of State, Office of the Historian's Milestones 1899-1913; Columbia University's Asia for Educator's Central Themes and Key Points; and of course, the indefatigable Wikipedia.  If I've got anything here incorrect, please instruct and enlighten me, as much of this history is news to me.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

They say when you're too busy to sit down and meditate, that's exactly when you should sit down and meditate.

But sometimes you really are too busy to sit down and meditate.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

I wen to bed early and slept for 10 hours last night, the first time I can recall doing that since mid- last summer, but I can't recall my dreams.

Monday, January 04, 2016

My first day back to work today since December 23 and a whole day spent outdoors, and it turns out to also be the end of the unseasonably warm weather we've been having and the coldest day since last February.

But I didn't care, because I got to spend the whole day outdoors.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

I'm back!  Those who know me well know that my absence from these pages has been due to my being off live-blogging the college football bowls for the past week and a half.

As you can see in the before-and-after picture above, the new refrigerator got delivered. It's taking me some time to get used to seeing that stranger in my kitchen every time I walk in the room.

The roofer came by and took a look at the damage, but hasn't gotten me an estimate yet or started the repair work.  Fortunately, the hard rains have let up, at least for a while, so there's been no more damage done.

The football games ran virtually all day, from noon to midnight or beyond, and as a result I made no progress on Underworld.  I did manage to re-watch all of Season 1 of The Leftovers and Episodes 1 through 5 of Season 2 (five more episodes to go).

Regular postings will resume here soon.