Walking, losing weight and taking photos of life in Virginia.

Archive for ‘November, 2012’

How To Deal With the Coming Debt Crisis

I’m having trouble understanding something and I hope someone can help me with it. It’s not really political in nature. It’s more about economics. I realize we all have different views about a lot of things in the national discussion going on EVERY DAY!

No breaks on the weekends. They are still jabbering about some nonsense at 3 a.m. if you ever are so desperate for sleep you tune in then. One good thing is that it will put you OUT. So there’s that. Just don’t actually think about it because it will possibly make you mad and then you will be awake when the birds start to chirp.

Then you must get up. Make some coffee. Curse the television. And never watch it again! Except when they show something that is actually good, entertaining and interesting. It does happen. About once a year.

So I’m having trouble understanding why everyone is not primarily concerned about the government’s sixteen trillion dollar debt. On a graph you can see the line heading almost straight up like the space shuttle!! And nothing grows to the sky. It’s going to come crashing down at some point. And that’s going to LEAVE A MARK!

Why aren’t all Americans behind the idea that this has to be fixed? I don’t get it. And I don’t believe anybody really believes you can tax rich people enough to fix it. You could take ALL their money and it wouldn’t be enough! It wouldn’t even come close. So what’s the problem? People don’t understand math? Maybe. Or they are too busy to think about it? Or they are dying and feel like it doesn’t matter.

But what about their kids? Their friends? It’s such an enormous amount and it’s going to be 20 trillion in a few years. At some point it’s going to take everything we’ve got just to pay the interest on it!  I suppose there are a lot of folks out there that believe, well, yes, raising taxes on the rich won’t do it so we need to raise them on my middle-class neighbors (we just don’t want to mention it right now).  John, across the street, just bought a new boat so he can give more.  And, if he can’t he should just sell the thing!  It’s a hole in the water collecting bills, anyway!  Or, and this is interesting, I need to vote for the Dems even though the Reps know more about the debt, because of global warming!  If the world is screwed, does our financial situation even matter!  And this is true.  If, in fact, you believe in global warming.  The Reps might actually find more folks voting for them if they were more concerned about the planet!

You can believe this or that about a lot of things and I don’t really care. Life is too short to worry about so many things. But this thing will destroy our economy and lead to a very long depression. Or, they will inflate the money supply and kill everybody’s savings AND THEN there will be a very long depression.  Which may lead to fewer particulates in the stratosphere.  So, maybe, that’s the answer.  I don’t know.

In any case, there are many important ways to spend money but you can’t spend what you don’t have! And we don’t have it. It’s not there! So how can we keep spending it? Well, it won’t go on forever, as I said, and, I suppose, nobody is going to take a reasonable approach to fixing it. So MATH will take care of it. REALITY will take care of it. And everybody will stand around with a shocked face.

It will hurt a lot. But, hopefully, we will learn from this and not let it happen again as we live on  tomatoes growing on our window sills or in the back yard.  If we still have backyards!  One of the reasons I have bought a couple of tents and learned about camping is that I’m preparing for these events (once again I must report my lovely wife has been rolling her eyes). I have a little tent (for me) and a big tent (for everybody else).

It’s no fun sleeping with other people in a tent. It’s hard enough sleeping in one alone! But I share this to impress upon you the importance of preparing for the apocalypse AHEAD OF TIME! Things will be a little easier when the time comes. So get your own tent! And let the poor unfortunates sleep in the other one.

Also, get a good sleeping pad! And an Ipod with Audiobooks in case you miss your television.  The rest of the family can fill old pillowcases with pine needles and leaves.

And don’t pitch the two tents too close to each other!  Leave a space.  About a mile and a half should do the job.   It’s going to be difficult to survive in the coming years but WE CAN DO IT!  If we work together!  And avoid arguing about all of this!


Robert Thurman / Buddhist Thought / The Path To Greater Realization

Robert Thurman is a funny guy and very smart, too.  He’s on my Ipod talking at great length about the Tibetan Book Of The Dead.  Here’s a joke he tells that he finds hilarious.  “Why does it take so many sperm to impregnate the egg?”

“None of them will ask for directions.”  Pretty good.  Probably an old joke but I don’t remember ever hearing it.  Certainly my Dad didn’t mention it in The Talk we had many years ago.  Although I wish he had and hope my son reads this and will, someday, pass it on to my grandson.  An icebreaker.  Be cool, Dad.

Does the name Thurman ring any bells with you?  Well, it should!  Can any of us forget the bathtub scene with Uma (his daughter) or Kill Bill (not Bob).  Robert married the Swedish Beauty,  Nena von Schlebrugge, years ago.  Nena used to be married to Timothy Leary.  I shared this information with my wife today since Uma’s Dad is my new best friend during my walks (Audible.com  Liberation Upon Hearing In The Between.  Robert Thurman).  She may have rolled her eyes.  I need to see better but at the moment bright lights are causing me some difficulty because I’m giving up the pain medication I am prescribed for RLS (Restless Legs Syndrome).  Pain medications do help but they have very annoying side effects.  They amplify pain and other bodily miseries (itching, for example  and I have patches of eczema that are very distracting).  I could with some justification float around on a cloud all day but I choose to avoid this false reality and the increasing dosages necessary to avoid the “coming down”.

Besides, I’m in good shape now and don’t mind these daily wrestling matches with the body and it’s charming surprises.  But when your eyebrows cause you pain you have a serious problem.  Just saying.

Back to Robert Thurman.  He brings a poetic imagination to the table and builds visions that inspire, for instance.  New York City.  A large apartment building on a weekend evening.  How many people inside are “getting it on”?  Unborn souls are swirling around and being attracted to certain couples engaged in the tangle.  Each is identifying with a certain man or woman and “dive in” to the aforementioned struggle, not asking directions, but becoming an unborn child (male or female depending on  their focus), if they manage to reach the front of the line.  Sometimes it’s a tie (twins)!  His riff on the Oedipal connections at this moment are intriguing.  Lust will find a way, it seems, and we see why souls are drawn back into this world.  I’ve wondering for awhile why anyone would come back to this place.  Reincarnation always seemed a forced procedure but after listening to his description of romance on the East River I can sort of see why it happens.

While I walk the miles.  I’m not a Buddhist but much of what he says makes sense to me.  I was raised a Methodist in the sheltering arms of my parents and my most memorable experience there was “a first kiss” in the choir loft on an evening before we were discovered by the choir director (not a happy man).  It was a group meeting so the recriminations afterwards were diluted due to our sheer numbers.  Ah, church youth groups in the late 50’s and early 60’s were such fun.

Later I was a Baptist after an ill-fated decision to marry (Yours, Mine, Ours) in the Brady Bunch tradition.  I hope it was good in some ways for the kids because it was the Trip To Hell for me.  I stuck it out for 14 years but as you can probably tell I’m not the traditional kind of guy and the finest memories I have of this period were the communal meals with home fried chicken.  Jesus is real and I kept that in mind as I went down the road with someone who was interested only in support of one kind or another.  And still is, today.

The love of my (spiritual) life is Paramahansa Yogananda who arose in the Hindu tradition.  Robert says some interesting things about how the Hindu and Buddhist religions had a parting of the ways in India.  He notes that there are fierce Hindu deities who resemble  Buddhist deities and so forth.  Did you know that if you encounter one of these terrifying-looking forms (you can often find renditions of them in local museums like our own Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, by the way)  you should embrace them!  Don’t be afraid!  They are your protection in the unconscious mind where the great horrors of mankind (Hitler, for example!) reside.  So my guru, Paramahansa Yogandanda, has been with me since I discovered his autobiography on a book table, while in college.  I don’t associate him with kissing or fried chicken.  He has gotten me this far and through all of that.

And so my path continues as I walk every day and try to (gradually) improve.  The inner light calls me although I will admit, at this moment, the gross light of day is difficult.  I understand that life is fierce and lustful, at times, and it will lead you astray.  But I’m also confident that we can find our way.  I’m most grateful to have found a loving and supportive partner, my wife, Elizabeth, who is a gift from God and someone who enables me to reach beyond our mechanical world with it’s failing traditions.  “Betsy” is known to many as a source of strength and love.  I will call her Elizabeth, here, because it is a majestic name and were we to see her as she really is, we would see a spirit of such stature we would be in awe of the light she casts about this frightful (at times) place.

And to sum up, regarding Robert Thurman.  Once, long ago, he was apparently trying to jack up his car when the stupid thing snapped and shattered his face, causing him to lose an eye.  At that time he seemingly was a traditional guy, but after this happened, he gave up his marriage and traveled abroad, becoming the first American Buddhist monk of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.  He studied with the 14th Dalai Lama who became a close friend, and then returned to the U.S. in 1967 where he met his German-Swedish model and gave up his vows to pursue the life of the ordinary man.

Thus, we have Uma, her siblings and so many other things including some great lectures that one can enjoy while walking and trying to do better.  Yesterday, after I gave up the prescription pain medication and walked, I was lying in bed listening to the following music and doing some breathing exercises.  Suddenly, I was filled with a blissful light and energy that made it clear this was the right path.  This is the way.  Thank you for listening.  Have a perfect day.



The Day After Thanksgiving

In the first place, I don’t think we have yet found a good name for the day after Thanksgiving. We are, as of now, in the middle of it and I’m sitting here at the computer wondering why, in heaven’s name, anyone would call it black Friday. Or Black Friday. It’s not the shortest day of the year, the Winter Solstice, on or about December 21. Today we have had lots of sunshine, in fact. There’s some history behind the name including references to Philadelphia traffic congestion as shoppers hit the streets to buy stuff the day after Thanksgiving. There’s also the notion that retailers are in the black (as apposed to red ink) due to big sales volumes for the first time in their yearly quest for positive revenues.

The problem is that this day is a train wreck. And black is beautiful. So why not call it F’ed Up Friday? Or, F Me Friday (why do people do these things to themselves?). Finally Forked Friday would also be good (stick a fork in me, I’m done.) In fact, there’s a report today that a young lady stuck a fork in the neck of one of her dinner guests yesterday. But that was Thanksgiving, so the mayhem had not officially begun.

Today we have reports of someone rushing into the store to be first in line and jumping in front of hundreds who had waited all night to pick up their bargains. Unsurprisingly, gun play erupted. The line jumper hid behind a refrigerator and made his escape. But I imagine the true tragedy here is that many folks lost their place in line during the scramble while avoiding getting shot!

Mass insanity lies just beneath the thin veneer of civilization, people. It’s not a good idea to mess around with Mother Nature unless you want to want to enjoy a Mad Max lifestyle on a regular basis. Let’s stick with regular shopping hours and stop giving away nearly free stuff to the first fifty folks in line! It’s better to save! Order on-line! Let the UPS dude do your walking!

Go sit under a tree and reflect upon the true blessings of life. Or volunteer to help at your local shopaholic center. We are witnessing something akin to mass hysteria and it’s only going to get worse. And don’t get me started on the media. They love to focus the lens on the worst of it. And we love to watch it (from a safe distance). Everyone loves drama until it gets up in your face. And then we are happy to see it leave. It’s all just very sick.

And this is the way we begin the holiday season. NOW we all can focus on buying presents! This year 47 percent of America would prefer to to give up the gift giving aspect of Christmas. And who can blame them? Jobs are scarce and prices are up. Do we all need more anxiety as we try to find something that will inspire happiness in those we love?

Here’s what they will love. . .not having to do the same for us! Let’s just love each other and donate to our favorite charity! I’m seriously considering this as my next move. I’ve got a good excuse. . .old age! Dementia! My ex-wife stole my money! Whatever! Seriously, I’m going to start framing my photos and handing them out next year. And, in return, I will expect nothing. Please don’t give me a gift! I’m begging you.

And have a fabulous Friday in your home making some delicious cookies, or something. In fact, if you must, I would love to have some of those! Christmas should be about making things out of love, up to and including a fallout shelter to share with your loved ones during the coming Apocalypse.



Cold Weather Camping And Jogging / Exercise For The Soul

Monday afternoon. We went camping this weekend in the cold mountains of Virginia. Karl, Peggie, Mike, Sean, me and Roscoe, the dog. And when I return home the bed, the chair, the furnace and the frig all seem new to me. I love their presence. At one point this weekend while we were sitting around the fire, as the sun disappeared around 5 pm behind the mountain we inhabited, I tried to imagine living this way as others have done. Being here is merely a passing perception of life in the wilds. But it is riveting and something to remember. In ten years I could not tell you much that happened back in the fall of 2012. But I will remember the fire, the cold that settled in the night and being alone in a small tent in the early Sunday morning hours when everything was totally dark and infinitely quiet. My feet were cold and I could not sleep. And so I spent an hour (or two) teaching myself toe exercises that would bring the hot blood down there to the craggy end of my beastly being. I could not reach them with my hands because the sleeping back was pretty tight and at one point I felt claustrophobic and nearly ripped it aside and ran outside to meet the frigid, black night.

But it is better to settle down and not let the mind’s freaky moments rule. Eventually, and happily for all, the toes warmed up and no campers were alarmed by strange noises erupted around the campsite. I returned to the gentle clime of dreamland and did not awaken until 7:30. Mike had restarted the fire and soon we were having breakfast and planning our hike for the day.

Roscoe, Karl’s beautiful little dog, was there to cheer me up and we soon went up the trail for some beautiful vistas on The Priest Mountain in The Priest Wilderness. Roscoe enjoyed it. He is recuperating from an auto accident and broken bones. One of his legs can’t keep up when he runs so he goes on three legs when he’s in a hurry. I didn’t get many photos because the battery died but here in one of our furry companion.



Being away from civilization is a teaching moment and one that is priceless for those of us who see so many things going away. There is beauty in the woods and a feeling that nature and its many inhabitants are clearly beyond bombs falling on sleeping children abroad and the gigantic numbers signifying our leases are about to expire.

This morning, back in town, I went out for the morning jog and, as sometimes happens, I was suddenly aware of an enormous burst of energy within my soul. I ran the lonely streets, draped in mourning trees and carpeted with orange leaves, with a knowing that comes from running beyond everyday life and its concomitant tears into the cold, bright air of my true life. Muscles that strain and lungs that surge forward to the top of something. Where am I going? Why do I do these things?

I do not know. I am only aware that life is on fire and I wish to burn. Wrap your arms around me, Blessed One. I am of wounded age, but, like Roscoe, but I can still walk, run, climb, jump! I am unencumbered of so many things and waiting for the word. Listening, breathing and moving in the dark. Being with the trees and the light that shines on the mountain tops.

I do not wish to think, anymore. There is still so much to learn.

And George, I do love you and your gorgeous work.


All alone in this world am I
Not a care for this world have I
Only you keep my eyes open wide
Yes it’s true
I live for you

Not a thing in this world do I own
Only sadness from all that is grown
In this darkness I wait for the day
Yes it’s true
I live for you

For many years I wait
For many tears I wait

All this time my thoughts return to you
Give my love, that is all I can do
Wait in line till I feel you inside
Yes it’s true
I live for you

For many years I wait
For many tears I wait

All this time my thoughts return to you
Give my love, that is all I can do
Wait in line till I feel you inside
Yes it’s true
I live for you

I Live For You/ George Harrison

Ghost Tour / Richmond Virginia / Post Election Ramblings

So here we are a day after the erection, oh wait, sorry, election and I’m catching up on some writing because I have been in a time warp.  Day dreaming.  Imagining things.  Once, long ago, I participated in a campaign for George McGovern in a small way, handing out campaign buttons in Harvard Square.  A well dressed older man approached me with a scowl on his face.  Probably there was some concern written on mine.  But then, as he came within a foot or two he broke out in a wide, friendly smile and gathered up some of my materials.  He was playing with me and I will always remember him, whoever he was.  Mr. McGovern, of course, went on to lose the election and Tricky Dick was with us for awhile until the fateful day when he boarded the helicopter and left us, forever.

You never know how things are going to turn out (is my point).  Things can look pretty bad and then  the sun breaks out.  Or, you can feel like things are going swell and suddenly the well caves in and you are left without water..

We will just have to wait and see how things go.  I am happy this morning to say my eye appointment went well, yesterday.  I do not have a spot of cancer in my left eye.  But I am now convinced that it is important to have regular eye exams.  They are not just to correct vision problems.  If you are seeing well it doesn’t mean you don’t need to see someone for years and years.  There is also a correlation, I discovered, between small areas in the eye, called “bear tracks”, and colon cancer.  Coincidentally, I have been worried about bears and their tracks, sleeping out in the woods in the past year.  Now it’s clear I should have been more concerned about events behind the scenes.

Every day is an adventure as I try to find a peaceful place to “hang out”.  Monday evening a group of Trailblazers went downtown to an Irish Pub for dinner and then took a tour of some ghostly places associated with historic events in the Richmond area.  It was pretty much fun and good exercise too.  I took a photo of the governor’s home next to the Virginia Capitol building that clearly shows a ghostly orb surrounding an upstairs window.  And, while we were standing in this area the gate suddenly creaked upon giving us a momentary scare until the guard mentioned we should probably move and let  Governor McDonnell’s  car go on its way.

Surprise!  Everyone laughed.  We are easily fooled, it seems and we should probably not worry about too much.  Things will turn out differently than we hope or expect.  It’s how we determine to live our lives that is important.  And we should keep smiling, for sure, while we walk every day and talk to our favorite ghosts.
Things will sort themselves out.  They always do.  Here are some photos of our ghost tour.

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