Monthly Archives: November 2005

Fire and Ice

Robert Frost (1874–1963)
Fire and Ice

SOME say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Heads up to this spectacular Antartic volcano explosion on Montagu island via Clive Thompson’s collison detection via scietech daily via nature.com.

Dipper


The Dipper Mother, Qing Dynasty

Bamboo dipper, granite basin.
Crust of ice over inky reservoir.
Moon shimmers in the dipper
Until fullness drains away.

Some people are like dippers. No matter what they try to gather up, it ends up flowing out again. For such people it is exceedingly difficult to accumulate anything in life.

If you are like the dipper, that is all the more reason to concentrate the resources that you have. Poverty of any kind need not be a deterrent if you know how to utilize the wealth you possess. You must embrace your fate, work with it, and take advantage of it.

Ultimately, we cannot truly grasp anything permanently in life. We are born naked, we die naked, and in point of fact we live naked. What we take to us — our clothes, our wealth, our relationships — are all external to us. They are easily taken away from us by bruising fate.

We try to internalize our experiences and our understanding. Even that can be taken away by stress, senility, poor memory, disorganized thinking, drugs, or shock. Truly, we are all dippers. The little that life offers us dribbles away.

Perhaps even the poorest of situations is rich, because all the futility of life leads us to embrace Tao. After all, it is bigger than all infinities and more subtle than the slightest wisp. To feel it requires great strength. To sense it requires a dragonfly’s delicacy. When you tire of trying to hold on to life, you will find the means to enter Tao.

Deng Ming Tao, 365 Tao

“Hide your body in the Big Dipper” — Zen Proverb

I used to accumulate things, now I seem to be in the process of getting rid of a lot of them. Most of that resulted from the hassles of having to clean all the accumulated crap out of my mom’s house after she died. There were years and years of letters to go through, stacks of papers, lots of clothing, and all the accumulated things stashed in the attic from so many years in the same house. I saved a few things, dishes and pictures mostly, but most of it nobody really wanted to take.

We all have our stashes of treasures, but they mean little to others when we are gone, really. There isn’t much point to accumulating a lot of stuff that someone else will simply have to sort through later on. It’s not a good chore to leave your loved ones.

I’ve already told my kids when I get to that age I’ll go rent a small furnished apartment somewhere. My goals is to be healthy enough to spend a lot of time traveling. Well, after I tire of the golden retriever ranch, of course! I still don’t really know if my desire to have a whole ranch and raise golden retrievers as service dogs and to give away is just a pipe dream or not.

And speaking of giving away, if anyone wants this copy of the 365 Tao I’ve been using this last year, please let me know. I would be more than happy to send it to you, or trade for another book you are ready to part with. Just email me at donna at woodka dot com, or comment here and we can email to exchange addresses. I would love to know this slightly bent and much loved book is going to a good home! It’s been an inspiring way to get me to journal this year. And I thank all who read here for their presence, comments, and thoughts as they share my space. I hope some of what has flowed out from my dipper of thoughts has been useful to you along your path. Namaste.

Donkey


August Macke, Donkey Rider

Dismount your donkey at the summit.

Some places in this world are very hard to climb, and people use animals. Each person can only ride one, and each animal might have a different name. The riders go up the trail in different orders, and they discuss their varying opinions about their experiences. They may even have conflicting opinions : One traveler may think the trip thrilling, another may find it terrifying, and a third may find it banal.

At the summit all the travelers stand in the same place. Each of them has the same chance to view the same vistas. The donkeys are put to rest and graze; they are not needed anymore.

We all travel the path of Tao. The donkeys are the various doctrines that each of us embraces. What does it matter which doctrine we embrace as long as it leads us to the summit? Your donkey might be a Zen donkey, mine might be a Tao donkey. There are Christian, Islamic, Jewish, and even Agnostic donkeys. All lead to the same place. Why poke fun at others over the name of their donkey? Aren’t you riding one yourself?

We should put aside both the donkeys and our interim experiences once we arrive at the summit. Whether we climbed in suffering or joy is immaterial; we are there. All religions have different names for the ways of getting to the holy summit. Once we reach the summit, we no longer need names, and we can experience all things directly.

Deng Ming Tao, 365 Tao

“The entrance into Jerusalem has all the elements of the theatre of the absurd: the poor king; truth comes riding on a donkey; symbolic actions – even parading without a permit!” — David Kirk

“Do you think yourself wise? Then there’s a donkey inside your waistcoat”
— Charles H. Spurgeon

A lot of people, perhaps most, who would say their religion is an end in itself, not a means to achieve spiritual growth. This is pretty sad, in a way, since it means people stop growing spiritually and simply declare they “believe” in whatever their religion is. The problem comes in accepting a belief system unquestioningly, rather than seeing religion as a tool for spiritual growth and enlightenment.

I guess it’s really a question of whether you want to attain the top of the mountain and and enjoy the view, or if you just want to sit around worshipping your ass.

How Newspapers can Increase their Circulation

Damn straight.

First Draft

I want the local news. I want to know what’s going on in my town today, and what’s on the agenda for tomorrow. I don’t give a frell about Ann Coulter’s opinion or George Will’s opinion and I could give a frack about the recycled WSJ bloviations as well. Spare me those odious filler trivia blocks.

I want to know what’s on the school lunch menu. I want to know what’s on the school board agenda. I want to know what the budget for the county’s road and bridges fund is buying. I want to know what the hours are at my local public library. I want to know what movies are showing in town and what time they start. I want to know what the phone numbers are for the food bank and what the city bus route map looks like, and if you could give me a decent weather forecast that would be a bonus. Put in the phone numbers for the school, and include the names and contact information for the paper’s editorial staff (not just circulation, advertising and the obit desk, thankyouverymuch). While you’re at it, run the names and district numbers, AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK, of my city councilmen, state legislators, and federal Congresscritters.

I want to have the legal notices in print big enough to read; save the effin’ agate for the blankety-blank stock closing notices, and put the girls’ high school basketball box scores in 10 point or better.

And *damn* your eyes, you editors and reporters and newsroom managers, if a man is shot dead in his front yard in my city and you get the call an hour before deadline, I want to know who he was and where he lived and why he was shot and what the police are doing, and whether I need to be on the lookout for the last vehicle seen in the vicinity — I do NOT want to have it swept under the rug as “oh, that’s just one nig– shooting another one.” If a woman reports a sexual assault, you keep your arrogant crack about “the hooker’s check bounced” up your own piehole and print the description of the suspect and the location of the attack so every other woman in town has a decent warning. It’s not your fracking job to bottle up the news because of the neighborhood where it happens or because your precious advertisers might be boycotted by some Self-Identified-Christian nutcase(s).

Your job is to report the news, and if you do your job right I should know as much about your personal politics and your financial aspirations as I know about the personal politics and financial aspirations of the tape in the videocassette: NOT ONE IOTA, because that’s not what the news is. What the news is is what’s happening, and whether you like what’s happening or not, whether your advertisers are thrilled with your coverage (particularly of them when they’re at fault) or not, doesn’t matter a bit. The news is the news, and your job is to report it. Report all of it that will fit, and don’t frell around with fillers and ‘features’ and canned editorials.

Write the truth. Challenge your readers to think for themselves, don’t spoon-feed them the corporate line. In the long run the world will be better for it and you will have helped.

Francine Busby for Congress!

Francine Busby for Congress!

REPRESENTING YOU WITH HONESTY AND INTEGRITY

I’m Francine Busby and I’m running for Congress to represent the people of California’s 50th congressional district with the honesty and integrity they deserve. I will start by demanding higher ethical standards from our representatives–we must restore public trust in Congress.

We need honesty and civility in Congress to resolve the issues that are important to all our families. I’ll work with both parties to make our families safe and secure, stop out of control deficit spending and make our families healthier. We will build a stronger America by focusing on values that unite us.

Working together, we will solve real problems for real people and make California a better place to live, work and raise a family.

Please send Francine some love….

Oh, the day keeps getting better…

Heh. Guess he got the message…but who, oh who, will get to replace him? Hmmm…

California Congressman Resigns After Admitting He Took Bribes – New York Times

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Rep. Randy ”Duke” Cunningham pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy and tax charges and tearfully resigned from office, admitting he took $2.4 million in bribes to steer defense contracts to conspirators.

Cunningham, 63, entered pleas in U.S. District Court to charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud and wire fraud, and tax evasion for underreporting his income in 2004.

Cunningham answered ”yes, Your Honor” when asked by U.S. District Judge Larry Burns if he had accepted bribes from someone in exchange for his performance of official duties.

Later, at a news conference, he wiped away tears as he announced his resignation.

”I can’t undo what I have done but I can atone,” he said.

Cunningham, an eight-term Republican congressman, had already announced in July that he would not seek re-election next year.

House Ethics rules say that any lawmaker convicted of a felony no longer should vote or participate in committee work. Under Republican caucus rules, Cunningham also would have lost his chairmanship of the House Intelligence subcommittee on terrorism and human intelligence.

The former Vietnam War flying ace was known on Capitol Hill for his interest in defense issues and his occasional temperamental outbursts.

After the hearing, Cunningham was taken away for fingerprinting and released on his own recognizance until a Feb. 27 sentencing hearing. He could receive up to 10 years in prison.

He also agreed to forfeit to the government his Rancho Santa Fe home, more than $1.8 million in cash and antiques and rugs.

In a statement, prosecutors said Cunningham admitted to receiving at least $2.4 million in bribes paid to him by several conspirators through a variety of methods, including checks totaling over $1 million, cash, rugs, antiques, furniture, yacht club fees and vacations.

”He did the worst thing an elected official can do — he enriched himself through his position and violated the trust of those who put him there,” U.S. Attorney Carol Lam said. The statement did not identify the conspirators.

The case began when authorities started investigating whether Cunningham and his wife, Nancy, used the proceeds from the $1,675,000 sale to defense contractor Mitchell Wade to buy the $2.55 million mansion in Rancho Santa Fe. Wade put the Del Mar house back on the market and sold it after nearly a year for $975,000 — a loss of $700,000.

He drew little notice outside his San Diego-area district before the San Diego Union-Tribune reported last June that he’d sold the home to Wade.

Cunningham’s pleas came amid a series of GOP scandals. Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas had to step down as majority leader after he was indicted in a campaign finance case; a stock sale by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is being looked at by regulators; and Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff was indicted in the CIA leak case.

Cunningham Admits Taking Bribes

Resign, Cunningscam!

Print Story: Calif. Congressman Admits Taking Bribes on Yahoo! News

Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy and tax charges, admitting taking $2.4 million in bribes in a case that grew from an investigation into the sale of his home to a wide-ranging conspiracy involving payments in cash, vacations and antiques.

Cunningham, 63, entered pleas in U.S. District Court to charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud and wire fraud, and tax evasion for underreporting his income in 2004.

Cunningham answered “yes, Your Honor” when asked by U.S. District Judge Larry Burns if he had accepted bribes from someone in exchange for his performance of official duties.

Cunningham, an eight-term Republican congressman, announced in July that he wouldn’t seek re-election next year. But it was not immediately clear whether he hoped to keep his seat for the remainder of the current term. He planned to address reporters at a news conference later in the morning.

House Ethics rules say that any lawmaker convicted of a felony no longer should vote or participate in committee work. Under Republican caucus rules, Cunningham also would lose his chairmanship of the House Intelligence subcommittee on terrorism and human intelligence.

The former Vietnam War flying ace is known on Capitol Hill for his interest in defense issues and his occasional temperamental outbursts.

After the hearing, Cunningham was taken away for fingerprinting. He will be released on his own recognizance until a Feb. 27 sentencing hearing. He could receive a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

He also agreed to forfeit to the government his Rancho Santa Fe home, more than $1.8 million in cash and antiques and rugs.

In a statement, prosecutors said Cunningham admitted to receiving at least $2.4 million in bribes paid to him by several conspirators through a variety of methods, including checks totaling over $1 million, cash, rugs, antiques, furniture, yacht club fees and vacations.

“He did the worst thing an elected official can do — he enriched himself through his position and violated the trust of those who put him there,” U.S. Attorney Carol Lam said. The statement did not identify the conspirators.

The case began when authorities started investigating whether Cunningham and his wife, Nancy, used the proceeds from the $1,675,000 sale to defense contractor Mitchell Wade to buy a $2.55 million mansion in ritzy Rancho Santa Fe. Wade put the Del Mar house back on the market and sold it after nearly a year for $975,000 — a loss of $700,000.

He drew little notice outside his San Diego-area district before the San Diego Union-Tribune reported last June that he’d sold the home to Wade.

Cunningham’s pleas came amid a series of GOP scandals. Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas had to step down as majority leader after he was indicted in a campaign finance case; a stock sale by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is being looked at by regulators; and Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff was indicted in the CIA leak case.

___

Dovetail


Handmade European Dovetail Markers by Richard Kell

“Measure twice, cut once,” said the old craftsman.
Only careful planning and patient skill make a dovetail.

Early cabinetmakers were faced with the problem of joining two pieces of wood together at a right angle so that they would bear the stress not only of use but of the weather as well. Especially in places where the summers are hot and humid and the winters are dry and cold, a plank of wood might change its dimensions by a quarter- to a half-inch. Quite enough to make joints fall apart and drawers stick!

The dovetail joint holds because the two interlocked pieces of wood expand and contract at the same rate. The direction of the pull is against the locking of the joint. The byproduct of all this fine craft is a joint so precisely fitted that it is a thing of beauty in and of itself.

Cutting a dovetail joint is a demanding skill. The lines must be laid out with great care, and the cutting must be carefully done using a thin saw. The waste must be slowly trimmed away with a sharp chisel until both sides mate tightly. The making of a dovetail joint requires planning, skill, and patience.

Nowadays, cheap synthetic materials do not breathe with the seasons. That might reduce inconvenience, but it has also reduced the chance for another relationship to Tao. For when the cabinetmakers sought to build furniture that was compatible with the wood, the seasons, and their own ingenuity, they were perfectly in tune with Tao.

Deng Ming Tao, 365 Tao

We seem to have lost so many of the old arts. My home has a lot of craftsman-style furniture, but they are not the real thing, they are copies. We’ve had to fix the chairs several times, which wouldn’t happen with a truly well-crafted chair. Unfortunately it’s difficult to justify spending what it takes to buy really fine craftsmanship, but I’m finally starting to get to the point in my life where I can afford it more easily.

I just gave my sister-in-law and her husband a couple of paintings I did for them. Somehow it seems what I can do so easily and lightly, like my painting, is so difficult for others to do. No, I’m not a great artist, I just stopped being afraid to try and create something that others actually appreciate. It doesn’t matter to me that my art sells or not, it’s just fun for me and sometimes others appreciate it as well.

I think what is important in life is to create and to explore our capabilities. Some of us will become fine crafters and artists. Some of us may just make a bookshelf like the one that sits in my kitchen, created by my husband in high school woodshop. Where have all those woodshop classes gone? Why aren’t we teaching our kids these things anymore? Over the bookshelf hangs one of my paintings, of California poppies. A painting I did of sunflowers hangs on the other side of the kitchen. People are amazed when I tell them I painted these pictures! And yet, it’s not so difficult.

Whatever art or craft you wish to try, please do so. It is so rewarding to be able to surround yourself with things made by your own hand, those of friends and family, or other fine crafters you come to meet, like the silversmith I buy most of my jewelry from. And it is so much more rewarding than the cheap imitation things we see everywhere.